After two years of hiatus (which I’m so grateful was not an indefinite hiatus), the mighty power of depression and abstraction, Minsk decided to return in 2013. It was the right decision to make from the band to get back into the music scene again because as we all know between 2005 to 2009 Minsk had released three of the greatest and deepest sludge/post-metal albums ever created. Out of a Center, which Is Neither Dead nor Alive, The Ritual Fires Of Abandonment and With Echoes In The Movement Of Stone are representing the darker, gloomier and more dynamic side of sludge/post-metal genre. Theirs sounds are a fabulous mixture of almighty Neurosis, Isis and Cult of Luna, yet Minsk has a massive potential to add some huge sound scape that [somehow] later became the band’s own trademarked sound and music visions.
After the reformation of Minsk in 2013, some much better news surfaced when the band announced there would be a new record in horizon and after a year or so, they started to record the album, which was to be released sometime in 2015. The Crash and the Draw, the longest Minsk album to date, spanning around 75 minutes, is set to be the band’s fourth album, with four wolves staring right at you on the charming album cover. Minsk album covers are always interesting, fit for their sound of music but with this album they’ve chosen a more artistic yet dark piece of illustration for their album cover that looks the best one in their career. The Crash and the Draw album cover is done by Relapse Records’ Orion Landau. Perfect job as always Mr. Landau!
A One hour and 15 minutes album seems a bit long (and boring in some parts) but when it comes to a band like Minsk which is trying to make epic huge sound scape with massive walls of sounds and atmospheres, it is common, even distinctive. Ten, fifteen minutes longer than their previous albums, The Crash and the Draw is filled with shorter songs than the previous ones! There’re only two songs longer than ten minutes. It opens with the drastic twelve minutes “To the Initiate”, with tremendous clean vocal harmonies merged to blackened sludge influenced and then embracing a massive post-metal/post-rock interlude leaves the audiences completely speechless, floating through the divinity of Minsk massive music, right at the start of the album.
This highly atmospheric start keeps going on to the next couple of songs and for the first time in their career Minsk have decided to write four-part song, entitling “Onward Procession part I to IV”, where each one has its own unique name. As a four-part song you’re expecting to hear a pattern of melodies or riffs repeating throughout these four parts but nope! That’s not it! Each part of these four songs has their own song construction, melodies and riffs, which has nothing to do to with the rest. “Onward Procession III. The Blue Hour” features some Giant Squid vibes, especially when those undertone vocal lines come through. Minsk’s effort on this four-part song is immensely powerful and remarkable, while they are presenting every one of their music elements from sludgy doom metal to post-metal, from gentle parts to chaotic ones, with a huge presence of post-rock and tribal tunes.
After 40, 45 minutes and with arrival of atmospheric ambient song like “Conjunction” Minsk have tried to make a distinctive balance somewhere in the middle of the album, while not leaving it too late to calm down the desolating storm of heavy riffs. Minsk have kept the calming tune of “Conjunction” through to the next song “The Way Is Through”, which opens with some of the greatest tunes ever coming from the band, constructed with atmospheric post-rock and melodic vocals, but it doesn’t go on that long, after 3 minutes, the typical intensive, sludgy and angry Minsk returns to crush, and damn the album isn’t finished yet. There is 20 minutes to go.
“To You There Is No End” is all about Minsk going tribal, with heavy usage of drums and percussion and a slight ambient tracked down under those gigantic walls of reverberant percussion. The last two song of the album, “To the Garish Remembrance of Failure” and “When the Walls Fell” haven’t explored anything new, sounding the same as what the band did the other nine songs.
Since the departure of Sanford Parker as Bassist/Vocalist of the band and taking the role of producer like he did for Minsk’s previous albums, band has kept on going with four vocals, Tony Wyioming left the band in 2011 and Kevin Rendleman joined in 2014. But to be honest, The Crash and the Draw sounds like nothing has changed in the band. Minsk is still sounding as crushing as their previous three albums and it is absolutely observable that Minsk is so hungry to bring more and have saved so many tunes for upcoming efforts.
Musicianship is still one of the greatest qualities of Minsk’s music and middle-eastern influenced melodies are clearly noticeable throughout this record especially in a song like “To the Garish Remembrance of Failure” with an enormous introduction. Next to musicianship, production of the album is another brilliant part of their effort, except I wish the vocals were a bit up-leveled.
Just as an expression, The Crash and the Draw is Pink Floyd’s “Animals” of metal music, which needs to be performed at Pompeii! This album reflects a big image of Minsk’s timeless, complicated, cold and darkened yet insanely sensational and moody music. A great follow-up to everything they’ve done before this. It is a tremendous achievement.
Words by: Arash Khosronejad (@arashkh)
Label: Relapse Records
Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 04/07/2015
Band info: Facebook