Sunday, September 08, 2013

SubRosa: More Constant Than the Gods (2013)


When I got the link to download SubRosa’s More Constant Than the Gods, my heart fluttered in my chest. That should tell you how I feel about this band, whose last release was my album of the year in 2011.

They haven’t significantly changed their sound in the last two years. They’re still heavier than anyone else out there, except perhaps Electric Wizard. That’s key. Beyond that, it’s tough to sum up their sound into any kind of compact formula. They’re entirely unique. Slow, mellow, and smooth most of the time, with soulful vocals. But they understand dynamism quite well, shifting to quieter, louder, faster, slower, more intense and violent as the mood requires. The folksy, off-key female singing is the Platonic ideal that Chino Moreno strives for.

The music has such gravity of soul that it can nearly suck your soul into itself.

They haven’t entirely made the same record as last time. The violin plays a somewhat less central role, with guitar taking on occasional lead duties in its absence (see “Ghosts of a Dead Empire”). Atonality is still used judiciously, but to even greater effect (“Affliction”). In one place, they allow male vocals (“The Usher”).

Despite burying them with praise, I do find some fault with it. The songs of No Help for the Mighty Ones ranged from 3 to 12 minutes and every length between, as needed for the song, and the full runtime was just under an hour. Here, they run from 7:30 to 14 minutes, and while they don’t in any stretch become tedious, the record as a whole ends up slightly less engrossing on its 68 minute run. Also, I take issue with the swagger of “Cosey Mo.” It’s an excellent song, no doubt. But there is no mistaking that the rest of the album is of the breed of doom that has evolved beyond rock and roll. Putting rock in the middle of the record detracts from its unity.

They still make my heart flutter.

The Verdict: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Profound Lore

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