Sound — 7
"After Peril", the first in a double album for the UG Community's third endeavour into Post-rock, is an album that, repeatedly and consistently, knocks on the door of wonder, only to be told that nobody's home. We begin on a seeming lull in play, and never quite escape it. The inescapable impression left behind is that we've entered a new place. A surreal environment where the usual laws don't apply, but the imprint of reality remains, and the differences that make this album unique also serve to weigh against it far too strongly. Like too many albums by UG members, the background is once again far outweighing the foreground, and the finished product seems as though it would likely be outweighed by the unfinished previews.
Lyrics — 7
An almost invitingly casual opening double captures the interest, but sadly fails to inspire, where some tracks finally muster up the force of rock necessary, and then sadly fail to expire. It is frankly impossible to tell when the first track ends and the second begins. The first stand out track is without a doubt "Silence Of Apples", mostly for being the first track to realise that there is actually some rock in post rock. "I Wish That My Fingers..." also manages a clear display of power, but stays far beyond the allotted welcome it received for being daring enough to do so. "The Stare" is equally daring, but for different reasons. It is composed cleverly, and one of the few tracks to deliver it's message, and make you realise that there actually might be one. The talent here is clear, but this is only a piece of the puzzle, else the album would be akin to a work of art. There are too many long builds and slow sections that leave the audience, like a whiny partner, asking so early "where is this going?" A perfect example of this is "A Towering Inferno..." I still find myself wondering where on Earth it was supposed to go. It was simply infuriating. "I Won't Be Home" seems almost out of place before it, delivering a packed punch that starts off loaded with promise, trails off somewhere in the middle, and you're left wanting to start it again, but ignore everything that comes in the second half. Sadly, the moment can not be recaptured. The track "Phalanx", like much of the album, seems to trip over itself, introducing new harmonies, and then falling into a lull. This one though, is typical Landforge: the ambient section is, by itself, thrilling, and serves the album well in the long run. While the rhythmic tone is something of a let down, I would put this track as another highlight just on the carefully planned out elements that keep your interest throughout. Each individual track shows immense care and attention to detail. Ultimately, the let down is simply in the fact that this is a compilation album, and that you can't just follow something in particular to the very end. Too many tracks are guilty of attempting to show only the best, and thus there is constant tredding on toes. Individual moments can capture you and grip tightly, but each moment of harnessed brilliance is ultimately betrayed by the next artist in the queue. Thankfully, "Not An Eye Was Left Open...", particularly halfway through, attempts to raise the game, competing with its fellows, and this proves a crucial turning point in the album. The casual listener is temporarily grabbed by the throat and made to open their ears, while the lull finally begins to shift into some good old post-rock. While this track proves somewhat repetitive and sloppy, it does serve a valuable purpose in capturing the attention of a listener whose ears are being both treated and punished for it. And then the mould begins to break. "Blessed Be The Fishes", for all it's ambient sections filled with yearning vocals, proves to be beyond the static, formulaic album beginning. Though the genre is likely to make it a difficult one to swallow, the quality and composition make for an admirable piece of work, swelling and falling in a way that the rest of the album simply hasn't managed and pulling the audience of out the beginnings of a rut with it. And then, with "Eastwatch-By-The-Sea", we're back in the eternal lull, hearing the album pass us by with little to no interest. Everything from the production value to the display of invention takes a hit. Everything slows down again, and the effect is altogether lost. This remains a problem throughout. From being so close to brilliant, we fall back into the comfort zone of slow, easy, idle music. "The Spaces Between Us" comes at the wrong time, starting out reminiscent of lounge music and failing to hit the mark until it's too late. Again, as a stand alone piece, this one would likely hit the spot, but somewhere along the way it just stops working. It is once again repetitive, drawing back towards the formula, the system, the uninventive. "If It's You, I'm Not..." is guilty of the same to such a degree that it honestly bears no description whatsoever. "The Swings" seems to be attempting an interval that we neither need nor want. It's all the same; nothing is pushing ahead of the rest or just trying to do more. "L'Etude..." proves to be exactly the same. It's a noise. That's about it. Worse, it lasts twelve minutes. "Black Zale, Orange Swift" begins, once again, in the lull, the quota for it having been absorbed almost an hour ago. The interval continues. It doesn't have to kick up a gear, or amaze, or inspire. It just has to do something, and it can't manage it. "Running At Night" finally gives some clue that things are about to get interesting again, but then this proves to be a clever ruse. The album concludes on another interval, conveniently named the "Oban Interlude". Undoubtedly this was a conscious choice, to bring in the next album to come. Sadly, we never quite got out of the interval stage, regardless of how close we came, so many times.
Overall Impression — 7
In the end, this album is a tease. It's the teenage teaching aide to the high schooler, the short skirt without underwear, the smell of chocolate ice cream without the taste. The build up is so sweet, but with no release to follow. At it's most basic, the layered harmonies work well, the riffs are strong, the ambience beautiful and the artists inventive. The disappointment lies in the fact that these things never occur in sync. It's not bad. In many places it's quite good - it just never quite works. With any luck, "Came Respite", the album that follows this one, will unleash the beast.