World Keeps Sinking
There’s a certain effortlessness to “Last Of Your Kind,” the opening track of Northless’ new double LP World Keeps Sinking. Despite the fact that the song touches on an incredible number of metal and punk sub-genres, from hardcore to prog to stoner to doom, the non-linear progression from one incredibly crafted riff to the next never seems forced. Beyond that, it seems like the only logical path the song can follow. While the nods to these musical niches could easily come off as a grating and snobbish opportunity to name-check as many styles as possible, the song instead stands as a celebration of all things heavy. Considering the collective members’ pedigree within the Milwaukee hardcore and metal scene, this should come as no surprise. This is not music that could be made by someone with a passing interest, but only by musicians studied and heavily invested in metal subculture—the true believers.
The tone set by this first track expands throughout the rest of the album. Dissonant lead lines barely crackle through pummeling walls of doom-laden riffs, cleverly masking the nuanced songwriting and highly technical musicianship that could easily come off as showboating, but never does. Even in moments such as the soaring guitar solo near the end of “Kuru,” the technical ability needed to play the part almost seems like an afterthought. While the diversity leads to a balanced and engaging listen, the record truly shines at its heaviest (especially on the highly technical “Communion” and the no-nonsense “Wither And Escape”). Despite the fact that the wall of distortion found on older records has softened, the riffs surprisingly hit harder than ever. It’s a counterintuitive maneuver (turning down the gain to make the record sound heavier), but a highly effective one.
World Keeps Sinking may not be perfect (the 15-plus minutes of the contemplative “Passage” could use some editing, and the vocals throughout waver between truly terrifying and overly stylistic), but it only misses the mark by a hair. Although the members of Northless may dedicate themselves to the age-old art of misanthropy, the crushing metal they produce turns that disgust into something worth celebrating. An ironic trade-off, but one that hopefully keeps coming.
Northless celebrates the release of World Keeps Sinking Friday, August 23 at Quarters Rock ’N’ Roll Palace. Listen to an exclusive stream of the entire album below.