There’s an added expectation for a record when a band announce it will be their last one. Wrvth have been around since 2007, releasing three full-lengths. No Rising Son is their fourth and final before parting ways for good. Wrvth have a dense, chaotic -core style of metal at their heart; they merge a contemporary deathcore sound with the late 90s early 2000s metalcore of Converge, The Dillinger Escape Plan et al. The band like layers, though, and there are frequent diversions and obstacles which the band sublimate into their sound. Tactile, fragile and overly-melodic elements of post-rock and shoegaze creep in, as do strident tremolo-led passages inspired by the blackened edges of metal. There’s a laudable attempt at progression which means Wrvth avoid constructing songs in the common mold. There are no predictable transitions into chugs and breakdowns, no obvious verse-chorus rotations or catchy vocal lines to bounce to in the pit. Instead, Wrvth seem more concerned with whittling down a listener’s happiness and joy through a constant and depressing movement of sound. This is a truly distressing farewell gift.
There’s always a lot happening during No Rising Sun. Even the more tender moments in the record layer sound in such a luscious way that one could argue there’s just too much going on – what can we cling on to, hold close to our chest, when there’s such a barrage of sound? A balance is required for the softer moments to hold and the heavier moments to hook. Sometimes Wrvth find the balance with excellence; at other times, they lose hold of the sound and everything falls askew. The opening stretch of tracks is a successful example of balancing loud-soft dynamics. The band greet us with a reverberating shimmer of guitar noise and rapid drumming. It’s a tender and dramatic build up which winds up the record, preparing us for an explosion. Furor emerges in the form of rapid bass-led drumming and a collision of deep grinding guitars and slinkier high pitched phrasing. It’s a chaotic mulch exacerbated by vulnerable high pitch shrieks which envelope the music tightly, a ball of fury which soon unravels and disassembles.
Soft open note guitar lines drift through the mix at the end of the opener before a cataclysm opens up in “Pirouette of Hysterics”. It’s the second song only in name. It flows from the gaping wound of “Eventide,” an organic transition which links many songs on the record. “Undertow,” the fifth track, merges the harsh and beautiful most laudably. Wrvth build dreamy, washy layers during the opening stretches. Waves of clean female vocals weave between echoing guitar lines; the track works its way, gradually, into more intense stretches. Most impressive, though, is the band’s patience. Wrvth play on expectations, building to what seems to be a rushed crescendo before, quite unexpectedly, reverting back to the softness of the beginning, a wave. When the crushing breakdown of shouts, shrieks, chugs and double bass drumming does break through it feels powerful, more so than if the band rushed into it. Follow up track “Enshrined” works well with “Undertow.” After the intense ending of the latter, the song simmers with a melancholy before moving into a blackened tumult of careening melody and excessive drumming.
As the record progresses its initial allure diminishes. Unfortunately, the record begins to become a mush of similar sounding passages. New songs repeat previous ideas, neither intensifying or softening the sound in a way that moves the record in a different direction. The record repeats motifs and sounds. Something more scathing and dense, or something even more sparse and vulnerable, could work to fire the record forward, creating more of a narrative from beginning to end. The Dillinger Escape Plan did this reasonably successfully with their final release; Dissociation became more unhinged, less predictable and hauntingly vulnerable and soft towards its very end. Wrvth need something similar. Eighth track “Dust and Moonlight” feels like a more logical ending. It’s a much more sullen and beautiful track which strikes at the heart through chunkier guitar riffs, less chaotic collisions of sound and the use of more melodic phrasing. It’s shame that two tracks follow it.
No Rising Son slips away as the final quarter of the record begins – the ending is underwhelming. It’s a bit like saying goodbye to an old friend in a public place. You go through all the ceremony – hugs, handshakes, vacuous statements about how you’re going to try to see them more but really you don’t want to because you’ve got metal to listen to at home. Then, you realize you both need to walk in the same direction and all that pomp and ceremony has been destroyed; you spend ten minutes walking in peculiar silence. No Rising Son has had this affect on me. It spills out all of its pathos early on and leaves nothing for the remainder.