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Ragged Words On ASIWYFA

Brings to mind a solitary ship docking... pillaging a quiet shoreline with a stealth that can only be described as violent, yet professional. 3/5

And So I Watch You From Afar

 
RELEASE DATE: 
13 Apr 2009
RECORD LABEL: 
Smalltown America
In Three Words: 
Heavy As Fuck
RAGGED RATING: 
3/5

The debut from Belfast’s And So I Watch From Afar arrives like a crashing, smashing juggernaut, replete with no vocals and long and loud numbers. The otherworldly, almost Nordic feeling (explanation later) brings to mind a Viking raid; that of a solitary ship docking and raping and pillaging a quiet shoreline with a stealth that can only be described as violent, yet professional. 

At first there’s a lot going on here on the band’s self-titled first full effort. About one minute and thirty seconds in, there is an expectant eruption of massive power chords spliced with tricklings of trebley lead guitar and a thundering, supercharged drum kit sent up from hell and straight away, the formula for what is to follow is set. It’s ‘Math Rock’ but heavier, longer. There are complex structures and rhythms throughout. Waves of very distinct fills interlock back and forth mingling over one another to create quite a rich tapestry for what essentially will be seen by many as just heavy noise. Some might even say its darker moments are similar to Godspeed or Fly Pan Am. But it’s not really. There’s no genuine subtlety here. These guys can’t wait to tear the roof off with their teeth. Imagine Mogwai and Battles forming a super group and it might sound like this. Might.

The first half of the album is far heavier. It’s simply unrelenting in its mission; deafness and death to all (the titles say it all; "Set Guitars to Kill", "I Capture Castles" and "Tip of a Hat, Punch in the Face" for example). By the fifth track, the casual listener, those not too pent up with angsty teen rage and revolt that is, will definitely be tiring of this. But things turn up a notch slightly two tracks later from "If It Ain’t Broke, Break It" on, not volume wise but creatively. There is less churning gut shredding and more in the way of, well, melody one supposes. "If It Ain’t Broke…" is a surprise; inventive and clearer in its direction to stray from the pack. The tracks from here become less about intense fury and more about something else. "Don’t Waste Time Doing Things You Hate" is the album highlight. It floats and charges in equal measures. Strangely enough it has a very tribal South American-like chant right bang in the middle of it. There are Sigur Ros-like similarities too. Tiny moments dotted around the album sporadically. A little twinge here, a little echo-effect picking there. It does bring to mind ships and ice bergs and all that good ol’ Scandinavian stuff. The album finishes with an epic planet eating gargantuan that if it were a real intergalactic being, would swallow whole power grids for breakfast and funnily enough it’s called ‘Eat the City, Eat it Whole.’ Listen and enjoy all seven minutes, forty-seven seconds of it.

Acquired listening indeed then. The boys need to hone their art, really zone in on a particular ingredient and make it there own. The ability is certainly there but as a debut it’s quite messy. The sheer size and length of the album is a bit of a turn off also . You worry about ASIWYFA’s ability to hold a listeners attention. Saying that however, there are some standouts here of truly, truly epic proportions that should not be missed. Keep an eye on these guys. As NME said and I quote, it’s: ‘the sound of someone crashing an oil tanker through Sigur Ros’ ice float.’ Says it all really.

- Shane O'Reilly, raggedwords.com