One of the hallmarks of the best post-rock is its ability to transport listeners, to provide a soundtrack by which to explore the textures and intricacies of a chosen landscape, to offer a vibrant, living, breathing perspective to accompany the inward search for outward imagery. Often the specifics of this vision focus in on inspiring beauty, stunning expanse, delicate intimacy; but for all the seductive power inherent in the encompassing light of that aesthetic there would be no sense of balance without a counterpoint emerging from the darkness. Enter the U.K. trio Coldbones, who only leave a portion of the journey to the imagination, opting to clearly state the destination, and to provide the narrative thrust that informs the listening experience. The Cataclysm is no attempt at metaphor; this is a score for the end of the world, an invitation to set aside the lovely vistas for a time in the interest of staring into the black heart beating in rhythm with our collective fears and forfeitures, our mistakes and regrets.
As one might expect from that description, The Cataclysm is a work that travels beyond the horizons of traditional post-rock. Here we find the destructiveness of metal, the considerable breadth of prog and the blurry world-weariness of shoegaze. While there are moments of quiet reflection, they are marked with a lamenting tone, and an ever-lurking sense of menace. More often this record is a fiery declaration composed of tension, anger and discontent, a collection of anti-anthems that achieve towering presence and considerable dramatic weight all while traversing uncomfortable themes with an impressively engaging approachability. Lead single “Collapse” is a shining example of this balancing act, a track that is rhythmically propulsive and uncommonly infectious without straying from the conceptual core of the record; as it progresses it presents like the impassioned cries of a world that has revolted against us and begun to reclaim itself. It is no small feat to compel a listener to be complicit in a hymn to their own demise, but “Collapse” is thoroughly catchy and possesses a forward momentum that’s hopeless to deny.
There is an arc to the track order that is uncannily inspired, bringing a sort of nobility to the realization of end times. In particular, the unfolding of the penultimate “Hinterlands” finds it reaching triumphant melodic heights usually reserved for more hopeful compositions, but here that soaring manner serves to highlight a steely-eyed acceptance, a regained composure and gracefulness as we stare at our final moments. This feeling carries into album-closer “Extinct,” which opens with searing fury before approaching its finale with fervor and poise, as if to suggest a newly discovered willingness to face whatever lies on the other side. The Alice Urbano painting that serves as the album cover is the perfect counterpart to The Cataclysm: fatalistic and unforgiving, yet remarkably lush and alluring despite its bleakness, it adeptly visualizes the methodology of the music contained within. If the world must end it might as well be guided by song, and The Cataclysm proves a worthy companion for embracing that darkness.
Brown w/ White/Orange Pulsar
Grey w/ White Marble