Hundred Year Old Man craft a brooding post-metal masterpiece on their full-length debut, Breaching.
Following hot on the heels of January’s Rei EP, Leeds’ Hundred Year Old Man return with an arsenal of city-leveling riffs and atmospheric gloom on their first full-length recording, Breaching. While it’s predecessor focused on creating dense, “shoegaze”-esque soundscapes that swallow the instrumentation whole, Breaching aims to crush with the sheer sonic weight of its songs. The desire to build enveloping walls of sound is still very much present on this album and is woven into the album’s heaviest moments flawlessly, but the instrumentation is more fleshed out this time around and the band’s post-metal and doom leanings are put proudly on display. The result is a massive, melancholic epic that sets a new standard for the genre.
From the foreboding, guitar-generated droning of the introductory title track, to the emotional avalanche of icy sludge and post-rock fervor of “Ascension”, Hundred Year Old Man make every moment count on this monolithic album. Each track on this nearly 60-minute record flows seamlessly into the next, making for an unyielding and cinematic listen. The band’s effective use of tension-and-release methods aid in creating this cinematic feel, keeping listeners on the edges of their seats awaiting a sonic climax that is heavier than imagined when it arrives.
After the reverberating feedback of “Breaching” sets the mood for the record, “Black Fire” comes crashing in with nearly 11-minutes of post-metal bliss. The monolithic track bleeds from titanic, lumbering chords to crushing dissonance during its initial moments, spearheaded by gruff growls and throaty hardcore yells. The track then reaches a bridge of hypnotically repetitive, tension-building chords and swelling, airy soundscapes that are peppered with shimmering leads. This tension is eventually released as the song reaches its final assault of cataclysmic, chugging riffs. With this track the album is off to a thunderous start.
“The Forest” begins with one of the album’s most unbridled displays of sludgy savagery, with a quick burst of galloping, dissonant terror. Soon the seven-minute behemoth transitions into a slow-burning jaunt engulfed in wavering ambiance, which brings Oceanic-era Isis to mind, before delivering a final march of cacophonous doom. The one-two punch of “Long Wall” and “Disconnect” hark back to the Rei EP with their heavy emphasis on atmosphere-infused doom and gloom. Coming across like a lost collaboration between Neurosis and Jesu, these sonic behemoths, both of which are well over eight minutes in length, are full of towering sludge riffs that collide head-on with icy walls of atmosphere. The guitars churn out equal portions of marching destruction and emotive leads which are simultaneously washed in waves of transcendental sound that provide an element of beauty in the darkest of moments.
Breaching is an enthralling opus that expertly balances light and dark, beauty and destruction. It is hard to find fault with a record that flows as flawlessly as this one does, and whose ambient interludes even act as important moments in the album’s musical journey rather than filler. Hundred Year Old Man have more than outdone themselves on this record. Post-metal and forward-thinking metal enthusiasts will not want to skip this one.
Release Date: April 27, 2018
Label: Gizeh Records/Wolves & Vibrancy
Favorite Tracks: “Black Fire” and “Ascension”
For Fans Of: Neurosis, Isis and Cult of Luna