ROSK - Remnants review

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Band: ROSK
Album: Remnants
Release date: November 2019

01. The Alley Of Burdens
02. Rosary
03. A Dying Breath
04. Ceased In Me
05. One Minute, A Lifetime
06. The Long Solitude

Ever since Ulver dropped Kveldssanger as their sophomore effort more than 20 years ago, black metal(-influenced) bands have been willing to ditch the tremolo and blast beats, and instead delve into folk-inspired acoustic ventures. Following their impressive 2017 debut Miasma, the post-black metal band ROSK has elected to follow in Ulver's steps with their all-acoustic sophomore, Remnants.

This time around, the monolithic mid-tempo riffs, harsh vocals and at times dense production of Miasma are absent; however, ROSK already displayed an ability to play softer, introspective music with clean vocals on their debut, such as during the opening minutes of "Infected I". As such, given that they have already ventured into softer territory, it is understandable that they may have wished to exclusively explore this side of their sound on a future release. The challenge this presents, however, is that when part of your appeal resides in the contrast between the quiet and heavy sides of your sound, implementing only one of those sides in a release deprives listeners of said contrast. Are ROSK sufficiently adept acoustic musicians to not leave listeners longing for the crushing melancholy that they can conjure in their harsher moments?

"The Alley Of Burdens" begins proceedings unassumingly enough, containing several minutes of stripped-down acoustic guitar and marching snare before violin is introduced towards the end to add some depth to the song's closing moments. ROSK's vocalists are not necessarily the most refined clean singers, but they possess enough evocative weight to sustain the songs on Remnants. The tender longing in the first lines of "Rosary" complements the melancholic atmosphere produced by the acoustic guitars and background ambient noise. This song is arguably the pick of the bunch on Remnants; the calculated, subtle building of this track as additional vocals and ambient layers enter the fray culminates in a teasing crescendo halfway through this track, with the percussion ramping up in intensity in a manner that promises a cathartic explosion of sound, only to cut away to near-silence. The second half of this song is a more up-tempo affair, but similarly powerful, a few vocal 'bum notes' aside.

ROSK are at their best on longer tracks such as "Rosary" and "A Dying Breath", in which they can gradually develop and expand their darkly beautiful creations with patiently integrated violin arrangements and progressively complex percussion. The transition from the lighter, softer singer earlier on in "A Dying Breath" to a richer, lower-pitched voice as the track progresses matches the increasing depth and enhances the delicate beauty of this song. These two tracks stifle any nostalgia for Miasma. In contrast, the shorter, less explorative songs, such as "Ceased In Me" and "One Minute, A Lifetime", are pleasantly mellow, but a tad lacking, particularly the former; "One Minute, A Lifetime" does at least eventually feature some delightfully dainty acoustic guitar work in its later moments. Remnants does suffer slightly from peaking early on with the excellence of "Rosary" and "A Dying Breath".

The all-acoustic approach is on the whole a very successful venture; ROSK display a keen awareness of how best to combine acoustic guitars, strings, stripped-down percussion and soothing male vocals to craft a rich yet sombre atmosphere, and have sufficient melodic intuition to sustain interest across a whole album's worth of songs. Remnants is perhaps a tad front-loaded, but there's more than enough evidence here to suggest ROSK could craft a consistently great album should they continue to persevere with this acoustic approach instead of returning to the post-black sound of Miasma.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 8
Songwriting: 7
Originality: 6
Production: 8


Written on 16.11.2019 by Hey chief let's talk why not


Comments: 1   Visited by: 49 users
17.11.2019 - 03:26
Thanks for the introduction of the band. they seem a lot Antimatter-ish when using the acoustic guitars and reverb also with strings part,but the vox seems a lot like Soen or Ulver on the path of gregorian chant.
thanks again pal

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