Very few genres have as clearly identifiable roots as post metal. Without fail, musicians under this label are always traced back to the same key acts. Neurosis. Isis. Cult of Luna. These are the bands that defined post metal for decades. For many, they also acted as the gateway into the genre itself, but not for me. Back in 2009, I somehow managed to stumble across Latitudes, a small band from England who just released their debut album, Agonist. I was enthralled almost immediately. Agonist‘s dense, crushing atmosphere coupled with the band’s incredible use of contrast was something quite special. Chock it up to nostalgia if you like, but even after I eventually absorbed the works of post metal’s founding fathers, I’ve still considered Agonist to be one of my favorite records in the genre. You can imagine my distress when I discovered that not once has Latitudes ever been featured on these hallowed pages. Thankfully, I have been given the opportunity to right this wrong. Latitudes released Old Sunlight this past January, and I’ll be damned if we miss this one too.
Post metal really is all about the atmosphere and as it so happens, atmosphere is kind of Latitudes‘ thing. The band has an ear for contrast that is second to none, and Old Sunlight encapsulates this aspect of their sound very well indeed. The album is as beautiful as it is crushing, weaving back and forth between chaos and melody with true grace. Perhaps the greatest indicator of this trait can be found in Adam Symonds’ vocal performances. His cleans ebb and flow throughout the music and the opposition between his melodies and the instruments behind him is truly haunting. “Body Within a Body” demonstrates this technique perfectly.
While Adam’s vocals add greatly to the experience, they’re used very sparingly throughout the record. Over half the album is instrumental, which gives his voice even more impact when he does decide to use it. That’s not to say the instrumental sections aren’t worthy of your time, however. For example, opener “Ordalin’s” varied riffs and tempo build to a superb climax, keeping the song interesting throughout its 9-minute run time. The album closes with “Quandary,” an eerie, melancholic outro that ends the album beautifully.
Now with three albums under their belt, it’s safe to say that Latitudes is one of the most exciting, forward thinking contemporary acts in the post metal scene. The torch is in good hands, Neur-Isis. Perhaps one day we’ll be adding Latitudes to that list as well.
Tracks to Check Out: “Ordalian,” “Body Within a Body,” and “Altarpieces”