Parhelia - Shifting Sands
Ray Van Horn, Jr.
Though one might assume the "post metal" vibe ala Pelican, Isis, Rosetta, Red Sparowes and Mouth of the Architect is an American phenomenon, suffice it to say the theorem has caught on worldwide. Germany's Long Distance Calling have begun a triumphant career through two albums now and while there are more instrumental artscape bands waiting to be unearthed around the globe, take note of a special foursome out of Dublin, Ireland who are prepared to stake their claim with an elegant alt-prog-post metal swoon.
Parehlia is perhaps the most sensuous group yet to arrive in this esteemed subdivision of underground rock and metal. Part Pelican, part The Cure, part an understated Kitchens of Distinction and part War and October era U2, Parhelia's debut full-length Shifting Sands may ride a particular rhythmic wave in their exploratory chasms of sound reverb, but it's their confidence which really shines. When you get offers to open for a variety of acts such as Slunt, Dead Soul Tribe and Guns 'n Roses, you know you're appealing to more than a tailored demographic.
While Shifting Sands never grows too loud and bombastic, merely climactic in building atop their waving bars as on "Inertia," the careful tailoring Parhelia molds with is nearly as compelling as Isis' past two albums, only in a far more understated way. Shifting Sands is decidedly downtempo straight through, reaching close to maudlin on the album's closer "Time & Tide" before opting to rise for a high stride, distorted cadence and ultimately a booming sequence of power chords the more it threads along. Sounding like a Cure track taking one step forward into a more metallic room space to work with, "Time & Tide" rises in spirit yet never with distemperment.
Sounding closely to Pelican on the quixotic opening number "Our Ship Has Sailed," Parhelia demonstrates immediately their ability to captivate with isolated note channels and a dreaminess not quite affiliated with the shoegazer acts of the late eighties to mid-nineties such as Lush or Cocteau Twins, though assumedly these bands helped pave Parhelia's tone. Nevertheless, guitarists Greg and Phil Clarke continuously trade upper and lower melody fills while the other scatters pleasantly drowsy note plucks.
At their most intense, Parhelia could pique the interest of The Edge with their wailing strum weaves, despite an overall propensity to keep a lofty sway to their pinpointed lines. They impressively build atop an opening sequence of psychedelic keys on "Perpetual Motion" with a slight modification of percussion grooves from Andy Clarke while bassist Cathal Rodgers grounds things before the tune rockets excitably in the final stanza.
The title track shifts the scheme by getting right into the meat of the composition then scaling back incrementally before letting an ensuing amplitude carry it the remainder of the way. Here is where Parhelia sound most like Pelican and early U2 in an agreeable marriage of distortion-propelled bliss. Enough to lift you straight into a storm cloud and then drift you into the open ether and pounding piano strikes of the following track "Pacific."
Contemporary yet partially throwback, Parhelia have obviously been working hard at their craft. If you want the heavy concussion of Neurosis, this isn't going to do it for you. However, if you're interested in hearing a meticulously structured set of instrumentals which only signal future greatness, then take the plunge off of the Inishowen coastline and drown yourself in Parhelia's salty ambience.
Saturday, July 25, 2009
Parhelia - Shifting Sands