Rwake - Rest (Relapse)

It's been a long time coming, but Rest is a record well worth the wait.

Released Nov 28th, 2011 via Relapse / By Paul Robertson
Rwake - Rest (Relapse) Arkansas-based sludge behemoths Rwake are, it seems, very much a band that plays by their own rules and follows their own schedule. For many bands, to leave a gap of four years between albums would be tantamount to marketplace suicide. Rwake, however, clearly do not give a hoot, what with already leaving a three year gap between their sophomore album If You Walk Before You Crawl, You Crawl Before You Die and their Relapse debut Voices Of Omens, something that may point to these guys and gal having taken their epic cosmic sludge thing to heart and now being able to measure time only in ice ages.

One thing is for sure, though, Rest is more than worth the wait. Patently a labour of love for the band, a vast amount of musical information is encoded here across six tracks, and spanning a little under an hour. Excluding delicate, cyclical acoustic intro 'Souls Of The Sky' and spoken-sample bridging piece 'Ti Progetto' the remaining four tracks are firmly in the progressive, expansive epic sludge metal mould, musically sitting somewhere between the epic psych-soaked sprawl of Neurosis and the tight complex thrash of Mastodon, albeit generally slower and much less frenetic in execution.

The scope and scale of Rest is vast indeed. The four tracks that make up the lions share of the album are all tributaries from the same great river of sound, comprising huge chords hewn from cyclopean granite blocks, propulsive psychedelia, twisted metal riffing and mournful guitar harmonies, all topped with unhinged, bestial howling vocals, pounding, tumbling drums and a general cosmic ambience. The psychedelia rears its head most notably during the first half of 'The Culling', right up until things take a turn toward claustrophobic thrash riffage, whereas 'An Invisible Thread' takes the greater part of those dark harmonies, but those same ingredients can be found in heaping helpings strewn right the way across Rest in varying quantities.

Despite its sprawling and epic nature, Rest is a deeply focussed record, and one lacking in flab – everything here helps further the music as a whole, something that a great many of Rwake's contemporaries could do with paying attention to and learning from. Obviously a band that truly understands the meaning of the word progressive, with Rest, Rwake have managed to compound upon and to expand upon all of those things that made their previous records so good. Hopefully it won't be another four years before the next stage in their continual evolution is revealed.