David Galas
The Cataclysm

Wow, where did this come from?

David Galas‘ background is in darkwave (playing with Lycia), but The Cataclysm melds goth-rock, doom, alt-country and the blackest of post-rock to create a lush, oppressive odyssey to get utterly lost in.

I haven’t heard the other band, but I hope he sticks with this sound – it’s completely arresting, and took me by surprise when I threw it in. After an introspective ambient opener, “The Harvest” crashed in with a rich, acoustic thunder and a droning, near-chanted vocal. It instantly recalled the grey-sky majesty of Primordial as well as Agalloch‘s pastoral landscapes, and I was hooked.

This is just a prelude to “American Melancholy” though, the first full song on the album – an earthy dirge of post-punk guitar wails circling beneath Galas‘ deep, sonorous voice. Galas is richer and more buoyant on “Alone We Will Always Be,” a gorgeous swoon that’ll be familiar to anyone who’s been captivated by one of 16 Horsepower’s grim, yesteryear elegies. It has that same nostalgic, emotional push, but the dense atmosphere gives these songs even more heft and intensity. Later on, the warmth flares brighter on “Far Away from Nothing,” a jangly ballad delivered with a heavy percussive strum – it wouldn’t be out of place on one of Opeth‘s offerings, and offers a respite from some of the album’s more crushing moments.

One of these, “Capsized,” combines ringing chimes, a suffocating atmosphere and a lone, clear-voiced fiddle to wash over you, conjuring up the image of fading light as you slowly sink into the depths. A similar effect occurs on one of the album’s fleeting interludes, “Sect II,” which starts as a disruptive clatter of crowds and loudspeakers, but then retreats into a watery, inner world of peace and solitude. Beautiful, doomy stuff.

The doom element on The Cataclysm surfaces more overtly on “The End is Always Closer,” where a thick, rumbling growl echoes Galas‘ equally powerful clean vocals. It’s the only time extreme vocals are used on the album, although blackish screams are also buried beneath the murk of “Reclamation.” Their infrequency is a testament to the careful touch Galas has used here, where every bleeding wash of feedback, every snatch of birdsong are all just stitches in the greater tapestry he’s weaving.

The Cataclysm is meant to be absorbed – and engulfed in – during a single listen, preferably during a long, solitary walk. Galas has crafted a rich, introspective journey with this release, taking you into the quiet place between tragedy and tranquillity, where the leaves never stop falling.

One of the best releases I’ve heard all year, and even if it came out in ’07, certain to make my year-end top 10.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Jordan Itkowitz
June 20th, 2008

Comments

  1. Commented by: None

    Good review; I immediately searched out some song samples just to hear what doomy alt-country might sound like. Not bad. You’re right, the atmosphere is oppressive. Sounds like a heavier Lycia. There’s a strong Swans vibe on some of the tracks, too. Thanks for the tip — I missed this one.


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