As a big fan of heavy music, and also a big fan of post-rock, the new red sparowes release should be a big deal for me. Ostensibly a heavy music super-group (featuring members of Isis, Neurosis, Angel Hair and occasionally Pelican), Red Sparowes should have the recipe for success. Unfortunately they also seem to have the power to disappoint too; at the soundless dawn had elements of excellence, but also had a distinct air of being a band who hadn't met their potential yet.
When I first got this album, I automatically felt enthusiastic- the long song titles, bizarre subject matter and narrative structure were still there. However, on first listening I was slightly perturbed- the band seem to regularly go down routes, spiralling, but then not quite committing to any sort of real crescendo. Unlike their genre predecessors God Speed! they never go all out. This perturbed me, and on first listening i was unimpressed; so, I did a bit of research...
If you start to explore what they are trying to do, if you look up the story of the eponymous: 'Red Sparowes' (the tale of Chinese cull of Red Sparrows and eventual mass starvation because of a plague of locusts), then you can actually learn that they aren't trying to do that. The story doesn't grow to the biggest crescendos, as the story doesn't allow for that. The more downbeat songs are only natural, as they're trying to track a tale with natural ebbs and flows.
It's only with this effort that I truly engaged with the album; one needs to search for artistic intention here, as it's not obvious. They aren't handing it to you on a plate, you need to fully attune yourself to the mood to actually work it out.
I saw the band live recently, and they used visuals to actually get across the structure. To some extent those visuals should be included (they aren't) to get the message across.
If you're a fan of pretension, then this is one of the albums that you should buy.