Written by Kep
Dimwind / Breaths – Seasons (split)
Post-metal / blackgaze/post-metal from Sweden / US
Releasing April 15 via Trepanation Recordings
Last year in June I reviewed Slow Wave Violence, the debut album from Swedish post-metal instrumental duo Dimwind. I was impressed, especially by their ability to create meaning and emotional themes without lyrics, using pure musical expression and a touch of spoken word to fashion one of the most moving things I listened to in 2021. The other project on this split release, American one-man blackgaze/post-metal outfit Breaths, is one that I was less familiar with but had heard good things about. My expectations were reasonably high for this release, and I was damn eager to get it into my ears once it hit my inbox.
Seasons is a conceptual split that examines humanity’s abuse of the environment and the planet’s rapid descent towards irrevocable disaster. It’s a timely and important message that’s been tackled by plenty of bands in recent memory, but both outfits here are able to apply a distinct personal touch to it. There’s a clear melancholy and nuanced reflection in both tracks that accompanies an overarching sense of angst and desperate concern. It’s a somber listen, to be sure, and one that I found impactful.
The bands both take a particularly expansive tack, contributing one fifteen-minute track each. I find that the their sounds work well together, connected by post-metal roots and use of thoughtful, plaintive melodies. The listening experience feels remarkably brief; at one point on my first spin I checked to see how far I was into Dimwind’s song and was shocked to realize there were only a few minutes left.
The Swedish duo’s contribution, “Window Passed”, is up first, and it opens with a matter-of-fact spoken word sample over atmospherics. There are times when the “scientist talks about impending geological disaster” trope can feel a bit stale, but I appreciate it here as it sets the tone for the whole release and provides a jumping-off point for Dimwind’s emphatic full-band arrival. The song feels organic in its progression, establishing a riff, building in intensity, layering a fresh melody, building some more, layering in new harmonies; there are definitive sections to the lengthy track, but they feel interrelated and closely connected. Five minutes in is the first real release after minutes of build, a tremolo-picked melody brooding over cacophonous blast beats. From there it’s a couple of heavy grooves before a quiet interlude with piano and more spoken word, this time in a language that I don’t recognize and spoken sorrowfully. The final stretch of the song starts with a touch of hopeful reflection in clean-tone guitars, then plenty of syncopated rhythm guitar leads to the return of the brooding tremolo melody, a solo on it, and then a towering passage of added harmonies. When the guitars finish quietly reflecting on that climax and the track is over, you’ll feel like you’ve been on a journey. There’s passion, distress, anger, hope, and real thought wrapped up into that quick fifteen minutes; you can hear the longing of a hurting planet in it.
While Dimwind’s approach is one of builds and progressions, Breaths’ “When Soft Voices Die” takes a more immediate approach, blasting out of the gates with furious aggression, vocals hellishly incensed above a blackened wall of sound. It’s a track of contrasts, bitter highs and disappointed lows, screams and blasts juxtaposed against painfully gorgeous cleans and atmospheric keyboards. Those quieter moments are just lovely, a sorrowful post-rock soundtrack to a dying world that’s being ignored by its murderers even as its life drains out. There are touches of doomy atmosphere and distorted guitar, and the drums pound ritualistically beneath it all, the voice of the unfeeling passage of time. A bit after eight minutes a ruminative bass melody is introduced, trading passages with the vocals, and it forms the core of the back half of the song. The most effective moment on the entire split comes when that pensive melody leads to a moment of quiet reflection before the calm is broken by a massive drop into thick chugs and the reappearance of harrowing screams. That final section is a larger-than-life post-black beatdown, and when it’s passed it’s like the weight of the earth’s pain has been sitting on your chest. It’s not quite over though; a deep, ominous bass rumbles below, a final reminder of impending tragedy.
THE BOTTOM LINE
This is a meaty split featuring two projects who effectively evoke thought and emotion in different ways. Dimwind’s half is a narrative musical meditation on the aching of the earth; Breaths’ half examines the hellish cries of a burning planet and the cold aloofness of humanity. Like Slow Wave Violence, Seasons is a meaningful and important work, and if you enjoy post-metal of any sort you should give it a listen.