58 reviews. Including this, Timeworn’s third offering, I have written 58 reviews across 2019. Mean score: 2.798. Median: 2.5. Leave the Soul for Now is my final full review. You know, the ones with all the bells and whistles, five paragraphs, footer info, the works. After this, it’s nothing but the desolate wastelands of Things You Might Have Missed articles and Top 10s where you already know it’s going to be about good music.1 You can’t experience the thrill of the unknown there! That is only possible in Regular Review World! And are we going out with a bang this year? Yes, ladies and other ladies, we are going out with a sizable bang from Norway, as well as a New Year’s resolution for all you concert goers: stop skipping out on fucking support acts, you twats!
Because you see, I would not have known about Timeworn had I not seen them open for Kvelertak in 2017, which lead to me writing a TYMHM on their strong sophomore slab of slithering sludge, Venomous High. Leave the Soul for Now sees the band continuing their evolution and maturation. The core of their sound remains the same: the textures and riffing style of old Mastodon with better vocals and less hyperactive drums. At the same time, the quintet2 show an ambition here that’s unlike anything on High. The songs have grown in depth and in length, relying on more than sick riffs. Atmospheric layers roll in like thick fog from the sea, and (semi-)clean vocals have more prominence this time around, occasionally recalling Baroness when they were still good, and the song structure has a strong progressive slant.
And the ambition pays off. Venomous High was a small, burly nugget of an album, but Leave the Soul for Now strides right past it with just a few paces of one of those giant gangly corpse things that adorn the beautiful cover. This is especially notable as the album progresses. “Sky Castles” could have been on its predecessor with its muscular riff and hooky chorus. Single “Oblivion Seekers” tears up the stage, pounding its hooks like a piledriver while adding a touch of melancholy in the excellent vocal hooks of the refrain. But as the album goes on, the song structures become less straightforward, adding more unexpected transitions and exploratory bridges. The final track, “Vagrant Heart,” is a nearly 10-minute affair that grows from an almost prog rock vibe, including atmospheric female backing vocals, to a cascading beast of a song. Its finale is a tour de force of layered riffs ascending and descending like an avalanche while hitting all the heartstrings. It’s a fantastic closer and really showcases the band’s amazing growth.
I think Timeworn haven’t quite hit their peak yet though, because there’s still a few small stumbles. The album is on the long side, and despite the gradually more progressive development, not all individual tracks quite fill out their boots. On the whole, this is not much of a bother, but much of album centerpiece “Hellwater” misses the mark with its picked acoustics and grungy croons, reminding a little too much of cringy radio rock. It’s not an album killer, as it’s not a full seven minutes of the same and heaviness does return, but it’s a significant blemish nonetheless. Thankfully, their homespun production remains impressive, particularly in the face of a relatively dense master. The mix is excellent and you never lose track of the layers weaving in and out of focus, and the guitar tone has a great mixture of weight and distortion.
Misplaced croons there may be, but do not let a dropped ball or two turn you off of this show. Leave the Soul for Now sees Timeworn spreading their wings and taking flight, retaining their doom-infused sludge heaviness and writing smarter, deeper, more atmospheric and more diverse material with it. These guys are becoming a serious force in progressive sludge and I dare predict their next album could very well be a bonafide list contender, particularly if they continue growing, carving their own niche and hitting the mark as hard as that amazing closer does. Many of you would never have known this had I skipped the support acts two years ago, so soldier up and support those opening acts! The next big thing may await you. Looks like it already awaited me.