Arctic Sleep - Kindred Spirits review

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Band: Arctic Sleep
Album: Kindred Spirits
Release date: July 2019

01. Meadows
02. Lantern Curse
03. Kindred Spirits
04. Maritime Delusion
05. Eternal Sunbeam
06. Connemara Moonset
07. Night Mirror
08. Cloud Map
09. Welcome To The Harbor Light
10. As Palms Give Way To Pines
11. Old Soul

Passage of Gaia, the last release from Arctic Sleep, was an intriguing effort: an entrancing mesh of warmth and melancholy, derived from the smooth yet somewhat aching vocals and the grandiose, pensive instrumentation. Five years on, Arctic Sleep have successfully crowdfunded its successor and their seventh full-length album to date, Kindred Spirits.

Written entirely by band founder, vocalist, and multi-instrumentalist Keith D, Kindred Spirits is lyrically inspired by the loss of, and dedicated to, Keith's recently-passed cat. Unsurprisingly, the album isn't an uplifting departure from the sound of Passage of Gaia, with a lot of the melancholic atmosphere from that album intact here. However, the songwriting approach here is slightly more varied than its predecessor, which is helped by the increased run time and track number. The only real wild card on Passage of Gaia, sonically, was the uptempo and hooky "Hyperion". Here, whilst the opener, "Meadows", operates within the same post-metal-influenced atmospheric doom sound dominating that album, there are a few novelties. Among the most notable are the sinister guitars and solo that open up "Maritime Delusion", sounding all the world like a death metal rampage is on the horizon, only to give way to a more soothing effort, as well as the percussion- and bass-dominated instrumental "Connemara Moonset". However, the biggest departure is the ambient drone closer, "Old Soul", a surprisingly accomplished 10 minutes of sustained guitars and nature sounds that delicately rounds off the album.

As previously, the vocals are arguably the driving force on this album. Keith's rounded, soothing voice dominates proceedings, but there are a variety of different additional vocals, including peaceful harmonizing with a female backing vocalist, who gets to dominate the opening of "Night Mirror" with ethereal, wordless melodies, and an impassioned male vocal cameo at the ending of "Meadows". The distinctive instrumental approach remains somewhat impressive, with the gradual development and seamless transitions of "Cloud Map" and other tracks, and the evocative weight upon which a lot of the music is built. However, I must confess that I never found myself engrossed in this in the way I've been successfully pulled into Passage of Gaia on many occasions; too often, the music passes me by, pleasant and moving but failing to land any real emotive punches. This issue is exacerbated by the album's length; Kindred Spirit could really do with losing a song either side of "Connemara Moonset", as both sides contain one too many flat patches to sustain the necessary momentum across its run time and avoid underselling standout moments, like the grand majesty of the chorus of "As Palms Give Way To Pines".

It's nice to hear Arctic Sleep's particular brand of atmospheric doom again, and it's nice to know there're enough other people that feel the same to successfully crowdfund this effort. However, despite its merits, I do unfortunately suspect I am unlikely to revisit Kindred Spirits with anything approaching the regularity with which I return to its predecessor.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 8
Songwriting: 7
Originality: 7
Production: 7


Written on 18.07.2019 by I'm just a guy with an opinion.

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