(Holy Roar Records)
It’s always nice to find bands willing to really try to go their own way in the post-metal realm. While I love a lot of bands doing the whole Cult of NeurIsis sound, the fact is that for a style meant to break from the mold, too often bands are willing to just color with the sludgy lines. London group Wren have wrangled together a fantastic display of doom-soaked melancholy. To be fair, you can definitely hear a lot of Isis, Neurosis, and Cult of Luna on Auburn Rule; however, Wren do a couple things that help them stand out from the pack.
First and foremost, they really know how to write a tune. As great as a delightfully distorted doom riff can be over a forlorn soundscape, too often bands forget that you have to actually take your songs somewhere. Wren fall in the atmospheric camp, certainly, as their sound leans more on visually captivating soundscapes. It’s not traditionally post-rock (there are little tremelo leads to be found), but these Londoners know how to create ominous soundtracks to a mental walk in a forest. This emphasis on mood over momentum can lead to some lackluster moments (the nearly ten minute closer “Dwellers of the Sepulchre” drones on too long), but it works because of how carefully crafted everything is.
That leads to the second point, which is Wren’s emphasis on feel and mood works very well with a doom-focused style where the vocals feel like an afterthought. Auburn Rule is quite deliberate in its execution. Aside from a few startlingly heavy riffs, you don’t get surprised by a transition, and the fully harsh vocals make the record feel heavier than it actually is. Wren’s melodic sensibilities carry their weight in gold here, helping lift the moments when songs drag from their sheer weight.
All in all, Wren do a wonderful job of creating haunting atmosphere on their latest record. The band’s deliberate songwriting is a nice asset, and those looking for post-metal that is more focused on mood than meandering will surely be rewarded.