Dimwind – Slow Wave Violence
Post-metal from Sweden
Released May 14, 2021 via independent/self-release
Some albums take you on a journey, and sometimes you don’t even realize that you’ve started one until suddenly something in the music shows that you’re not at home anymore. A moment catches the ear and all at once you look around and see not your bedroom, or your office, or the gym, but a vast ocean full of cloudy haze, or a stormy mountainscape covered in wind and rain, or an oppressive cave mouth yawning open before you. That’s what happened to me on my first listen to Slow Wave Violence. It was the opening of track 3, “Slow Wave Deceit”, that opened my eyes to the journey.
That track opens with a recording of a woman’s voice over soft tones, speaking in an eerily straightforward way about how she tried to end her life with a razor because she was “tired of living, tired of everybody.” On my first listen, I literally froze, listened intently until the speaking stopped and the song began, and then I started the entire album over so that I could listen from the beginning with more awareness. I wasn’t at home anymore.
Slow Wave Violence is the first release from Swedish post-rock/post-metal duo Dimwind. Hailing from Gothenburg, a town with the deepest of metal history roots, the band is a melancholy and moving instrumental project, made up of guitarist Andreas Hansen and drummer Jonas Eriksson. The music is an emotive, perfectly mixed and mastered soundscape. I said this in my Profond Barathre review earlier this year, and I’ll say it again here: instrumental projects can be hit or miss. Dimwind is very, very much a hit.
The thing that struck me the most about Hansen and Eriksson’s debut is how individual the songs feel while still holding up as a well-programmed, cohesively themed whole. Songs running together and making the listen a dull experience is a significant issue for many instrument-only bands, as is making a full-length album of songs that feel like they belong together in a natural way. That’s not a problem with Slow Wave Violence; in fact, I’d say that might be the greatest strength of the record.
Seven tracks make up the 42-minute runtime, and each one features its own distinct sort of comfortable groove and an overall vibe that mixes a hefty dose of melancholy with touches of uplifting light, always with an underpinning current of anxiety. Each song also has a memorable melodic riff that serves as its emotional center along with a distinct rhythmic backbone, while a combination of rhythmic motifs and countermelodies serve to flesh everything out. For example, “Blinds Drawn” opens the album and settles into a comfortable, relaxed groove, centered motifically around descending intervals from the keyboard and guitar, underlined with a foreboding eighth-note rhythm. The riff I hear as the emotional center makes its first brief appearance at :49, and returns several times as the music continues. It all builds to a tremendously satisfying moment just after four minutes in, where the heavens break open and a cascade of tremolo-picking flies the song toward its conclusion, but it doesn’t end until that central riff returns in gratifyingly large fashion.
I could write in greater detail than that about every song on the album, but that would be boring in comparison to the music itself. This is the kind of stuff that you want to play loud while you close your eyes and just allow yourself to submerge in it. Just know that every track stands out in its own way: the memorable melodic riff of “4 AM” cries over a powerful rhythm section, “Slow Wave Deceit” meditates darkly over a major second motif as the words of the woman on the recording burn into your memory, “False Awakening” uses ominous synth to introduce a sequence of riffs that feel like the musical embodiment of a tumultuous relationship, short interlude “Håglös” invokes images of a sweet sadness.
The journey, though, comes into focus with brilliant clarity in “Pelagic Vim”. The track drives forward more aggressively than the rest of the album, with periodic blast bleats and double-bass rhythms beneath alternating uplifting and melancholy guitar lines. Through the whole album there are these little moments of brightness—shifts to optimistic major chords and brief happy flashes mixed in with the darkness; the ultimate meaning of those moments arrives in the second half of this song. Here, the recording of the woman returns. She speaks of finding the right place and the right help, and how with time, despite setbacks and difficulties, she’s learning that “life is worth living.” On my first listen, when she finished speaking this second time, I literally had to pause the song to gather myself. What a goddamn moment.
“Broken Silver Cord” closes the album with a combination of rhythmic and melodic writing that serves as a reminder that overcoming is the goal of personal struggle, even though the moments of anxiety and darkness may never leave entirely. It’s a fitting coda to the emotional height of “Pelagic Vim”, with plenty of beauty and soaring melody accompanied by little moments of shadow.
I don’t want to understate how significant of a work I think Dimwind’s Slow Wave Violence is. I know instrumental albums can be quite an ask for the listener, and I know that finding time to *just listen* these days is sometimes nearly impossible. But I sincerely encourage you to give this record a chance. Put it on and lose yourself in the journey. I’ve been moved by every listen so far, and I think you will be too.
Favorite track: “Slow Wave Deceit”