Full Length, Enemies List Home Recordings
April 22nd, 2012
Genre: Folk/Alternative Country/Post-Rock/Noise-Rock/Post-Hardcore
Like others who follow Enemies List, I've been curiously anticipating the release of material from Dweller On The Threshold, a quietly blooming group of shifting seasoned musicians from Death To Tyrants, Daniel Striped Tiger, and The Toll.
This album could definitely be described as enchanting, but even more than that it's surprising and dense. I had assumed that it was going to be calm and dark, in the realm of alt-country/folk/ambient something like Wovenhand or O'Death. Knowing that this is Enemies List though I suspected that what I had heard from the short preview clip on their site was only the smoothest tip of a monolithic, jagged iceberg. I just didn't know what to expect.
The first few tracks are very warm and dark acoustic pieces with very honest, clean singing accompanying the quiet ghostly chords — these tracks are tranquil and melodic, glowing like a summer sunset in the country as echos spread to fill the air. "The Woods: Electric" is the perfect example of this as it lulls you into a nostalgic haze while it's tail end gets a little more rough; "Bell", "Where Did You Go?", and "Gallery of Stars" all experiment with this sound. All members (at times eight) play well together however the singing is particularly hypnotizing: unearthly, light and creeping with a lot of reverb.
The first time where you'll be thrown completely (as I was) is on the third track: "Crumbling House". It suddenly sounds like we've stepped into a very early Cave In EP and it's oh so good. Hardcore backgrounds of the musicians are given free reign here it would seem as the tone has been flipped completely to a post-hardcore or noise-rock pace: raw, bouncy and fast. As this track ends, the punk melts away quickly but is expressed elsewhere between the laid back and introspective folk. "Waves" is an example where we can hear some touches of sludge creep into the very distorted and coarse sounds, as the main riff repeats with a chorus of voices yelling overhead.
"Cantos 984" shows another unexpected blend. Beginning quietly on all fronts at a ritualistic pace, as the fuzz gets rolled on gradually and the volume increases you can almost hear the light tread of shoegaze right up to the five minute mark. The shift here is a step into a more sludgy-hardcore groove (like early Capricorns or Mare), the dose of heavy noise seals the track well without a doubt. One of my favorites here.
"The Drone" is another brilliant track with a change in style though not as jarring, moving from again warm country and halfway through bursting with feedback and multiple snaking leads to a very abrupt cold end. It's a powerful track, ambitious and treading softly on shoegaze at points but I really would've liked to hear that build last longer rather than the sudden drop out.
The final song, "Bell", has a similar atmosphere about it. The acoustic strings chime and twang alone beautifully for the opening three minutes; very magical with a gloomy edge as the slowly fade. It feels like a second song starts at this point as the spectral vocals come through with a playful melody for a time; very graceful. Then a break occurs where some of that post-hardcore shines through for a final crescendo but with the haunting voice remaining, echoing softly atop waves of noisy riffs.
Dweller On The Threshold's debut is impressive, fitting comfortably among the other strange acts in the increasingly excellent Enemies List stable. I almost want to compare these guys to Do Make Say Think in some ways. The number of talented rotating musicians with varied backgrounds is similar in both, and while I wouldn't call this post-rock the moments that approach this style feel much more like DMST then say Explosions In The Sky. As with most Enemies List releases this is something that may not be everyone's cup of tea. The changes in style could come off feeling a little disconnected and the album is definitely on the short side arguably. I would say they've managed the flips very well, pacing both elements smoothly considering the length.
I couldn't encourage you more to check this one out — it's an ELHR release so I shouldn't need to convince anyone to at least give it a chance if you've enjoyed anything from the label. Certainly those of you who like it can go to ELHR and preorder the vinyl or pay-what-you-want to download it digitally. Support these guys. You can also follow their tumblr.
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