24 February 2009 (released)
21 January 2009
And so it was with great excitement and expectation that music-news arrived at the rather swanky Metropolis recording Studios in East London. The excitement was reserved of course for the first listen of the new Steve Wilson album. The man behind (and in front of) Porcupine Tree, Blackfield and No-Man who helped Mikeal Akerfelt create some of Opeth’s most potent creations.
After a short chat and some much needed (and surprisingly tasty) food (and beer) we lucky few were guided through a door to a room with a view. Of five or six rather menacing looking speakers. Two minutes later "Insurgentes" was unleashed on our senses.
Opener "Harmony Korine" introduced itself with a gentle flourish of chiming guitars before very suddenly pulling the carpet right from under you with a weighty wall of sound intertwined with an effortlessly beautiful vocal melody. It’s a bit like being hit in the face with a twelve-ton hammer son. It will blow your mind. To pieces. "Harmony Korine" is the most immediate song here, an anthem that will immediately gratify. It’s blend of haunting melody and fuzzed out guitars laden with subtle menace sets the standard of things that follow. But it won’t prepare you. Oh no.
The industrial sounds of "Abandoner" follow before "Salvaging", a hefty eight minutes of dense droning guitars and swirling synth’s makes its mark on your eardrums, leaving you exhausted emotionally as it inexorably powers on like a steamroller through your brain. "Salvaging", in turn, make’s way for the hauntingly sublime shoegaze of "Veneno Para Las Hadas" with its understated strings and piano. It is a gentle respite from the intensity of what has gone before. Alas the preposterously titled doom prog epic "No Twilight Within the Courts of the Sun" soon drags you back (somewhat willingly) through the emotional ringer with a swirling melange of psychotic solo’s, mournful rhythms and the kind of tricksy, face melting beat we are more used to hearing from an otherwise low key Gavin Harrison.
A major highlight of the album has to be Significant Other. With help from the otherworldly vocals of Clodagh Simmonds, Steve has created one of his most memorable choruses. It’s a stunning piece of melodic doom rock that will own your attention from start to finish.
Even in the latter half when other albums would tail off "Insurgentes" engages us head on with some inspired musicianship. The haunting instrumental of "Twilight Coda" with its jazzy piano lines, the slow burning melody riddled monster "Get All You Deserve" and the piano led minutes of the title (and final) song itself all. Utterly. Convince.
As a whole the album is overwhelming. After listening to "Insurgentes" all the way through you feel quite exhausted and rising from our seats it felt like a trance had been lifted. It is an intense, diverse and intelligent album. Subtler in texture and extravagance than PT yet still retaining an incredible dominance over all who listen, "Insurgentes" has sent the benchmark for 2009.