Album Review: Turbid North – The Decline

4/5

Mixing sub-genres can be a delicate balancing act. When a band decide to do this, it can go either one of two ways. It can seem forced and awkward, or it can it seem natural and organic. Luckily for Texas-by-way-of-Alaska, power trio, Turbid North, their new album, The Decline, falls into the latter category. Their combination of lead-heavy doom riffs, mixed with bursts of vicious grind and topped off psychedelic guitar runs, that seem more at place on a Pink Floyd album than a Napalm Death one, make for one head spinning mixture of sounds that goes down easy. After listening to this album, you can definitely say no other band sounds quite like them.

In addition, The Decline is a concept album. It’s set in a sci-fi world and deals with the downfall and self-destruction of one person. Like many concept albums, this one is rooted in real-life struggles. Guitarist and vocalist Nick Forkel based the album on his experiences over the past few years. Given the song titles and the music contained on it, Forkel must have been dealing with a lot, and luckily, he gets to expunge those demons through his music.

They have mastered the use of dynamics to make their heavy parts seem heavier. The trick is, put a quieter part right next to a heavy part, so when the heavy part kicks in, it comes off sounding heavier and louder.  The first track on the album, “Eternal Dying,” showcases this approach to great effect. It opens with a gently picked, atmospheric guitar figure that gives to a lead heavy doom riff that seems all the more heavier given the part that preceded it. From there, the song alternates between sublime pysche sounds and heavy riffs. They also conjure a somber mood on it which comes off sounding like a heavier Alice In Chains.

From there, “The Oppressor” mixes doom riffs with synths and feedback squalls and some raw-throated vocals to conjure a heavy atmosphere, while “Slaves” showcases more of their mastery of dynamics, as it pieces together lead heavy Sabbath-inspired riffs,  otherworldly synths, vicious metallic grindcore, and spaced out guitar parts in a fluid, sublime way, that conjures many moods over its run time.

“Patients” is a straight up 1:36 grind ripper, and “Drown In Agony,” which follows “Patients,” keeps the speed, but then goes all atmospheric and doomy at its end. The same goes for “The Old Ones,” which starts out as vicious, fast, but adds Floydian guitars on top of the speed riffs, eventually, leading to a full on breakdown before ending fast, brutal, and, yes, psychedelic.

“A Dying Earth” is the centerpiece of the album. It’s also the longest track at 8:55. On it, they incorporate everything they have done on previous songs into one epic, and dynamic,  jam. There are a heavy doom parts mixing together with psychedelic parts, along with synths, and some fast, grindy parts. It’s a quite a feat of metallic alchemy.

The Decline, is a sublime listening experience for those looking for something a bit different in their heavy sounds. Its seamless mixtures of styles and moods makes it one of the most engaging heavy albums of the new year. So, if you’re looking for something a little bit more out of left-field, then definitely check this one out. It’s quite the ride.

Buy The Decline here.

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