Ironically, it almost seems like 10,000 days since we saw the last Tool album. Well, 10,000 days is the equivalent to 27 and a bit years, so not quite that far yet, but it has at least been a decade since the previous album from the LA masters of progressive metal. And understandably, there’s a lot of hype growing towards it, as on and off progress continues to be made, and has been for at least three years, not owing part to the now resolved lawsuit that had hung heavy over their heads for a lengthy period of time. There’s also an awful lot of impatience. So far, the only trace of new material we’ve had is a two-minute long instrumental jam, tentatively titled Descending, which by the band’s own admission is only a fragment of a song in progress. Yet the memes, anger and remarks persist. So I thought I’d offer an alternative to those dismayed by the lack of answers or have grown tired of waiting, by rounding up eight excellent, lesser known bands to listen to in the mean time whilst the new Tool album materialises:
I’ve made no secret my feelings on this band, detailed in my token of amour-cum-landmark 100th post on this blog. Know simply that their name isn’t just to identify a curious structural collapse in the 1940s. Their name is an event, and the music of such a striking namesake matches the grandeur, completely and absolutely. It’s been three years since the release of their phenomenal sophomore album Exegesis, an album I hold as being the best album I’ve ever listened to. Line-up tweaks and performances aplenty have taken place in that time period, but appear to not have not blunted their drive whatsoever to reach for the stratosphere. Hot off the heels of their heralded ArcTanGent appearance comes the much anticipated third album Wires/Dream\Wires.
For those who have never crossed paths before with the mighty Tacoma Narrows Bridge Disaster, what you are essentially getting is a colossal atmospheric waltz through life, the universe and everything via an awe-inspiring progressive post-metal masterclass, mentioned in the same breath as Isis, Pelican and Tool. Such interstellar impact and beauty seemed inconceivable until I first came across their art of graceful annihilation. 2009’s Collapse was an earth-shattering introduction and Exegesis was a rift-inducing exclamation point, where does Wires/Dream\Wires stand in the timeline of this incredible band of musicians? They remain as stalwart as ever. Wires/Dream\Wires actually returns to ground level for their third instalment, but in no way possible do they falter with their stopping power. It may be shorter than their previous efforts, with only one track breaching the 10 minute barrier, but it’s far more emotionally involving than previously encountered, almost inferring an air of tragedy unlike previous albums. Precision engineered to strike with riffs that crush you fifty feet underground and an ambience that makes you pilot of a world in melancholy and mourning, these are nine songs of inspiring musicianship that flick the switch to conquer in the face of adversity and personal loss.
In an album completely devoid of lulls in quality, the decision to cherry-pick one track of a shining collection was tough, like trying to decide which child to eat and cook for dinner tough. But I think there’s a unexplainable but highly satisfying pacing in the seven and a half minutes of Orogenic that leaps out at me as the favourite on this album. Swirls of keyboard lead in a vulnerable sounding series of notes, a warm bass groove shortly coursing through the musical veins with a toned down but still rhythmically complex skin-clattering joining the fray too. If this is your first Tacoma Narrows experience, then strap yourselves in. Their musical build-ups are world-class, insanely tight compositions that slowly raise tension before combusting into a flare of seminal, scorching playing ability. A sorrow-tinged melody weaves in and out of the first mesmerising musical passage, before the heavier artillery arrives in a fierier guitar bombshell and double kicks that sound off like high calibre rounds. This is only two minutes in. Succeeding the first siege is a smaller, but far tenser build-up of just the bouncing of fingers on bass and a more primitive-sounding drum pattern that still holds its complexity, like spurring on competitors in the hunt. Then they pounce. What follows sounds like they’ve successfully acquired a trophy from an encounter with Mastodon, the sheer seismic scale of the barrage reminiscent of the metal heavyweight’s prowess. That incredible bruising moment then transitions back into another build-up, splitting the guitars into a distorted riff with a nature of assertiveness to it and the second into an ominous, soothsaying voice of caution, with drums mediating between as a powerful pacemaker. The isolated last calls of that second guitar voice, like a haunting doomsday trigger word, is one of the best moments on the entire album. It unleashes the final inferno, a blistering explosion of all the instruments decimating anything within a 10 mile blast radius. The lead guitar, almost screaming above the density and incomprehensible force of the sound, is just astonishing, bringing that emotional turmoil to full fruition in the wake of musical devastation. Several more destructive hammer blows later and this cinematic experience comes to a close.
For something to be orogenic, it would cause a structural deformation, such as destabilising the ground we walk upon, of the outermost shell of a planet. This song visually speaking does just that, and does that job jaw-droppingly so. As previously noted, the music of Tacoma Narrows Bridge Disaster is an event, an event of such magnitude that sometimes it becomes unfathomable to sum up into words. Orogenic and Wires/Dream\Wires as a whole not only cements TNBD’s place as one of the best in UK post-metal, but to be as bold as to say as one of the UK’s best bands around.
Tacoma Narrows Bridge Disaster officially launch Wires/Dream\Wires on the 4th September at The Black Heart in London. Go buy a ticket. In the meantime, everything else you could ever want from them can be found on their Bandcamp page, including digital and physical copies of Wires/Dream\Wires. I would like to politely implore that you do it.