Rise Above Dead
Stellar Filth LP

I don’t think there’s a genre tag I dislike more than “post”. Post-punk, post-hardcore, post-rock, post-metal… Unlike its sister tag “proto”, which implies something basic, spare, or primitive, the word doesn’t have much descriptive power. When it comes to post-metal, it’s easy to see it as implying a combination of post rock and metal, but lately it seems to moving beyond that and becoming a catch all with a truckload of very different bands getting the tag stuck on them and any commonality is lost.

What’s this have to do with Rise Above Dead? Well, they could be lazily dumped in to the post-metal void like a billion other bands but my admittedly irrational hatred of the term prevents me from doing so. Rise Above Dead’s heavier bits are firmly rooted in the down tempo hardcore/sludge realm of Neurosis, and their frequent forays into trippier atmospheres journey to the borders of doom and psych rock. Stellar Filth is sort of a combination of Souls at Zero hardcore sludge and Thou’s quieter, more psychedelic moments. It’s not startlingly original, but a decent enough full length.

“Hide and Weeps” riffing begins like an ever so slightly faster Amenra, drops to some down struck sludge, before slowing down with cleaner tones to build to a billowing solo and crashing  with more down struck sludge. The largely instrumental title track starts slowly as tensions mount for some trudging heavy and a scrawling layer of noisy guitar. The instrumental track “End of a Kingdom” stands out with some good heavy riffage that emerges after a solid three and a half minutes of quietly building instrumentation. The ebbs and flows are what you would expect and they ride the waves of heavy and clean nicely. The execution is good, if not particularly moving or exciting.

The weak link is the vocals. Despite the music riding a disparate emotional flow, from raw to contemplative, the vocals are stuck on a roaring plateau regardless of the musical tone. They just aren’t as expressive as the music and feel out of place at times. The gruff vocal approach worked well enough on their debut EP Human Disintegration but Stellar Filth has more variety, is more exploratory, and has longer songs than that early taster. Rise Above Dead is clearly trying to stretch out a bit but are held back by vocals wedded to that earlier approach. Nevertheless, this is a promising start and, given the changes made in the time between EP and full length, they may still pull out something great in the coming years.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Chuck Kucher
March 19th, 2013

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