With an A side from an instrumental post-rock band and a B side from a guttural post-metal band, it’s easy to guess which we’ll like best. The surprise is that the two make such a lovely racket together.
Belgium’s All We Expected and Ireland’s Raum Kingdom met while sharing a stage, and soon realized that they had common interests, even a common sonic core. Remove the vocals from Raum Kingdom, and the music is still strong enough to stand on its own; add vocals to All We Expected, and the screamo kids will come running. It’s because the latter, although billed as post-rock, has a loud, metal-based sound, while the former, although billed as post-metal, describes itself as “heavy, but with elements of progressive and psychedelic rock.” They meet in the middle here.
The album begs – yes, begs – to be played loudly. There, I’ve just turned it up again. In terms of the instrumental music we cover, All We Expected falls on the thick, powerful side of the scale. One doesn’t expect a nine-and-a-half-minute songs to start with massive riffs, but that’s exactly what happens with “We’re Not Born to Live Like Brutes.” Build? What build? Voluminous without being fast, the track dips into short interludes before rising from the sludge, again and again, flexing its muscles and beating its chest. The lead melodies change hands from guitarist to guitarist as the drummer tries his best to break through the mylar. The dynamic contrast justifies the length, as something new is happening every minute. The same is true of “Flood”, which in contrast begins with a subtle groove that lasts for about two minutes before the levee breaks and the waters come rushing in. One can imagine the town being overrun by raging rapids, the debris racing downstream, the frantic helicopters flying overhead.
And now, Raum Kingdom. While listening to these tracks, I am reminded of Tool in its Latarelis phase: progressive veins running beneath a bloodied skin. The vocals alternate between singing and screamo, increasing the energy whenever the shift to the louder timbre occurs. “Grace” begins like “Flood”, with steady drums establishing an early groove. But 95 seconds in ~ sluuuuudge. At this point, one can tell why these bands like each other. The return to the groove at 7:33 is especially effective, signaling the trot to the end. And like “Brutes”, “Lost in the Hunt” begins with the riffs before quieting down, but only like a predator taking a nap before its next kill.
The beauty of this split is that it offers the opportunity for listeners to broaden their horizons ~ to consider another type of music that on the surface seems miles away, but is only a single step. This isn’t a pairing many would have imagined, but in execution it makes perfect sense. (Richard Allen)