No Remission, Through Blackened Skies
No Remission really went all out on this one. Years of pent up talent have exploded into maturation on their third brutal album. Through Blackened Skies takes us on a journey through just that. This album is emotional without being wussy at all. By this I mean that the raw musical nuances, precise technical execution and high production values provide us with some unpredictably delicious rations for our trip with No Remission. Metal heads who enjoy variety and musicians who 'play outside of the box', buy his album. I'll tell you why:
First off, "Carbon Copy" kicks in with a thrashy feel, snarly vocals and in your face guitars alternate with clean vocals and upbeat rhythms. They break it down into a harmonic guitar solo before a brief revival of the clean vocals, only to let us off the hook snarling again. This is just a sample. The album is riddled with interesting song structures, rhythmic changes and guitar solos that give Slash a run for his money. "All Hell Breaks Loose" builds up slowly before, you guessed it, all hell breaks loose with driven yet melodic riffs. No Remission uses rhythm expertly with their underlying build ups, you catch yourself head banging unintentionally.
"Skeletal Messiah" has a different feel than the first two tracks by introducing 'horse trot' rhythms. The drums and strings are particularly tight and everyone's locked in for the time signature changes. There are some really powerful clean vocals with good meter in contrast to the rhythm guitar. Track four' "Nine", gets right into it, no pretense of an intro. Crunching guitar riffs with ascending chords add to the feeling of insanity portrayed in the vocals. No Remission even gets down right bluesy with it, the vocals are reminiscent of Alice in Chains at this point. The percussion pulls us out of the blues and back into some intense cymbal work and guitar crunching.
"Malevolence" is a pensive, slightly dissonant acoustic guitar solo finger picked with harp like care. As a listener I felt like this was the point of the journey where anger is present even in peace. It ends as if in the middle of a breath and your thrown back to brutal with tight time changes and complicated rhythms on "Rage Within". This track displays a bit of a clockwork feel, moving forwards while looking back. No Remission pulls this off really well even though the music is technically demanding, at no point does it sound like jamming in as many notes as possible for the sake off showing off.
"Three Years" is built up on a sinister guitar riff and precise drumming, the sound space grows from big, to Large, to HUGE during the guitar solo. This is another track where No Remission is experimenting with song structure by assaulting us with interesting time changes and patterned guitar trills. "The Hunter" is also technically mature. The impact of the blast beats tastefully convey a hunting feel without over using the snare. The verses, breakdown and guitar solo are nicely contrasted, we go from fast and upbeat to slow and gritty for the most sludgy guitar solo yet, precise chaos over a doomy foundation.
Easing us in with clean guitar, light drums and a gentle electric guitar solo, "This Plague Will Kill Us All" creates a pensive sound that grows into that dark, clockwork feeling, once again. Always driving us forward, the sound brightens up for a second and then the verses snarl their way in and it's back to dark with a rallying, warlike feel in the percussion. As well as filling the sound space, each member of No Remission knows when to let their musical counterparts breathe. The pauses in the main guitar riff act as their own notes and the call and answer break down between the drums and guitars demonstrates this. The percussion on "Redemption" is deftly executed as well. The fairly simple guitar lines - for No Remission that is, leave room for intricate build ups and fills on the drums. Each track on this album goes somewhere musically and is interesting in its own way. This particular track goes from a running feel to a controlled fleeing vibe before we hit the outro. This outro brings us to the eye of the storm with "Benevolence", a short, bittersweet guitar solo. We get the sense that Through Blackened Skies has hit the point of the journey where we are done running and are ready for something fresh, namely the twelfth track.
"New Dark Age" builds and builds on the initial eastern sounding intro riff. We start out acoustic, with the guitar mimicking a sitar, until the drums and electric guitar take over and blast you in the face with the riff incase you didn't get it the first time. Once again I was impressed by the refreshing approach to song structure. "New Dark Age" is very well balanced, the percussion accents the vocals perfectly, the acoustic and electric guitars join up during the verses to create an invigorating change in tonality overall. Our final track, "Signal Loss", is no acception to No Remission's attention to detail. It kicks in with a syncopated riff that starts acoustic and gets progressively heavier as the drums and guitars join in. A contrast pattern is established between heavy and light cymbal attention, gritty chord progressions and melodic ones, snarly, clean, and deep and guttural vocals, and predominantly upbeat riffs alternated with down beat dominant riffs. As we sift through all this contrast the tempo unexpectedly slows down to a spooky breakdown. The slight dissonance in the clean vocals and guitars lend power to the overall sound before a reprise of the blast beat used in the first verse. They even further break it down in the final outro. As the 'last chord' is fading away, what's this? A new drum beat? Within the first two or three drum hits we are transported into a hospital room where the listener is just waiting for the flat line. No Remission does not disappoint us. The album dies and leaves us waiting for whatever's on the other side through that darkened sky. Perhaps album four?
Laurcifer - April 2011
No Remission is: