Local avant-metal band Apocryphonic merge the grammar of Mogwai and the sonic vocabulary of Conifer into 35 minutes of dexterous post-rock on their impressive debut record. But while the band have seemingly mastered the art of the climactic finish, it's the moments when they dodge the big musical payoff that work best.
This Light Offers No Warmth begins with a cinematic flourish. A door creaks open and shut, and over a minute of ambient sounds the image of a room builds. It's a neat effect that could last even longer, and frames the three-song album that follows as a movement rather than a collection of songs. After the build, the album's first track ("Chronophage") finds the trio trotting through a series of melodic, slow-building phrases, establishing a pattern of tightly-wound instrumentation that continues throughout the record. Chris Milligan's guitar work does some lovely strutting, and drummer Kyle Winchester impressively leads the band through abrupt changes between 5/8 and 6/8, but as is the case with much of this subgenre, the formulas can get a little transparent. Apocryphonic's phrases can sometimes either feel randomly patched together, or tracing the sort of mounting climax that Explosions in the Sky brought into mass predictability.
The album's second track ("The Inferno") is its shortest and most rewarding. Its section of guitar harmonics is a lovely lateral meditation, and its unexpectedly chordy chorus recalls some of '90s noise-rock band Steel Pole Bath Tub's finer moments. Track three ("Lurker at the Threshold") nods toward fallen local metal group Ocean and the rhythmic patience of Pelican. Its 20-minute running time gives the band expansive space, where they can't fall victim to overly cinematic banalities. Still, Apocryphonic's first movement should be a rush to witness live; with a shortage of Portland bands working on dynamic long-form composition, their first record is a successful one indeed.
Apocryphonic | with Hessian + Cryptic Overcast | July 9 | at Geno's, 625 Congress St, Portland | 207.221.2385 | apocryphonic.bandcamp.com
: New England Music News
, Music, Mogwai, Conifer, More