I felt a certain pressure when choosing something, particularly my first thing, to write up as a TYMHM. When I write reviews, ok, I choose them from the promo pit but I’m choosing from the limited pickings left for me by the faster, more nimble AMG scribes. When picking a TYMHM, it’s all on me to pick from the shit ton of music not covered on this most veritable of blogs. So, it may perhaps strike some of you as odd that I have chosen to cover an endearingly small1 album with only 2 tracks and clocking in at just over 25 minutes.2 But the truth is I had to cover Daxma’s Ruins upon Ruins because I just love it. It’s an emotional, darkly delicate, and starkly beautiful post-doom record and is the follow up to Oakland five-piece Daxma’s3 2017 debut LP, The Head Which Becomes the Skull.
The Head was a quality slab of oceanic post-doom on which Daxma demonstrated a maturity and skill you simply don’t expect from a debut LP. It also dealt with some pretty lofty, philosophical themes, drawing heavily on Hegel, among others. While the title of Ruins may be drawn from an essay where the author, “disputing Hegel’s notion of history as the story of progress, writes about an angel of history looking backwards towards the past,”4 Daxma devote one of the two tracks here to more recent history, re-imagining Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide” in truly epic fashion. The near-15 minute opener “Minima Moralia” is a lushly textured, slow moving post-doom masterclass that begins with a German-accented spoken word passage on industrial civilization and social norms set to the backdrop of ponderous drums and Jessica T’s haunting violin. Something that could easily be boring is instead strangely captivating, leading you effortlessly into the moment when the first glacial riff opens up.
Abandoning vocals for the rest of “Minima Moralia,” Daxma at times remind me of Godspeed You! Black Emperor in their delicacy. At others they conjure the bleakness of A Swarm of the Sun and the intensity—albeit without the heaviness—of Cult of Luna. I was also put in mind of the slower parts Glacier. While “Minima Moralia” is a great track, the highlight of Ruins is undoubtedly Daxma’s take on the iconic “Landslide.” Teasing it out to over 10 minutes, they turn this into a huge, brooding post-metal song that pays fitting tribute to the raw emotion of Stevie Nicks’ performance on the original. It seems like violinist Jessica T. and bassist Kelly D. both shouldered the unenviable task of tackling the vocals, and they deserve major kudos for delivering a performance that recalls the original while also making it completely their own. Their performance, in a husky yet oddly ethereal style, manages to capture perfectly the mood of the music. Kelly has said that Daxma approached the track “not so much as a cover, but as a separate piece of music inspired by the original song,” and that definitely comes across.
Throughout Ruins, the three guitarists—Isaac R., Forrest H. and Jessica, who plays guitar as well as violin—deliver deceptively simple, multi-layered riffs with a gorgeously mournful edge to the guitar tone that keep me coming back time and time again. Toward the back end of “Landslide” particularly, but also on “Minima Moralia,” Daxma up the post-doom elements, with Thomas I. coming into his own on drums. Ruins upon Ruins has really worked its way into my brain and I can’t recommend this beautifully haunting little album enough.
Tracks to Check Out: Well, there are only two and they’re both brilliant, so why not treat yourself to both!
- “Endearingly small” is how the surgeon who recently repaired my ruptured Achilles described my tendons. ↩
- Some would say this is in fact an EP, but you’d be wrong because we don’t cover EPs here. I’m gonna have to hold the line that this is just a really compact, bijou album. ↩
- Pronounced DOCK-ma, the term for Zoroastrian—the ancient, pre-Islamic religion of Iran—funerary temples, also known as ‘Towers of Silence.’ ↩
- “On the Concept of History” by Walter Benjamin. ↩