The heavy new album from multifaceted Massachusetts post-rock band HarborLights lands like a hazy storm of musical tumult over some long forgotten corner of the ocean. Called Isolation Ritual, the new release feels consistently dramatically heavy, and the band guide the power they’ve opened up in their album to a gripping landing. The atmospheric haze that the band mix in with their relentlessly stormy but melodic heaviness helps deliver a sense of emotional intimacy. The situation captured on the record doesn’t just seem like some storm at some far-off locale proceeding from a distance. Instead, turning on Isolation Ritual places you on the shore in the path of the storm with an awe-inspiring but ominous view of looming darkness.
The band unite sheer sonic intensity and emotionally gripping atmosphere quite magnificently honestly. This album feels like a remarkably experiential work that you can really step into, in a sense. It’s an immersion into chaos with fleeting but definitely present streaks of beauty running poignantly around you through the noise. As the record proceeds, it feels like that storm arrives — but the still essentially ever-present carefulness with which the band present their work delivers a strange sense of security. The reassuring musical confidence represents security in the midst of loss — but it’s security nonetheless. HarborLights pack what feels like an expert and compassionate understanding of turmoil into their work. Although multiple tracks are entirely instrumental, lyrically the band deal with an uneasy break with and subsequent alienation from others like a former romantic partner and, perhaps most poignantly, oneself.
All in all, the fascinating band deliver what’s probably some of the “punkiest” post-rock you’ve heard in awhile that calls contemporaries to mind like the recently returned The End of the Ocean, although that awesomely heavy band sticks to the pattern of employing no lyrics. The intensely surging rock from HarborLights hits like ocean waves, with melodically building, captivating surges packed throughout the album. It seems like this band have used the already powerful framework of post-rock, disconnected from rigid genre standards as it is, to deliver a powerful statement of personal accounting that transcends musical boundaries and constitutes a fascinating, truly fresh statement from this band.