The Post Metal/Postcore/Ambient Sludge/etc. genre has just exploded. Go back four years and there was ISIS, PELICAN, CULT OF LUNA, NEUROSIS and that was it, but now it seems like every man and his dog has their own Post Metal band. It's easy to see why, though. You don't need mad skillz to do Post Metal, and when it's executed right, it can sound really quite epic.
So, as a result of the inherent awesomeness and easiness of this genre, basically every Sludge band is adding a few clean parts here and there so they can get a slice of the pie, whereas every Post-Rock band is making their loud parts a bit louder so they can also get some crossover appeal. LONG DISTANCE CALLING take the latter approach, and while they sound like a million other post rock bands everything here has been executed very well, so it's a pretty enjoyable listen.
Indeed, one thing these guys won't get accused of is being too original. The LONG DISTANCE CALLING formula is pretty simple- start off doing an Explosions in the Sky impersonation and slowly build the song up until it sounds like an ISIS impersonation. The hallmarks are all there- lively, tom heavy percussion (including an excellent NEUROSIS tribal beat in "The Very Last Day"), lots of clean, sparkling guitar parts, and the big, slow motion riffs that end most of the songs. The riffs are pretty solid ("Fire In The Mountain" being a prime example) but generally these guys are best in the quieter moments, like the gorgeous, epic opening of the first track, and the massive build up on "Built Without Hands". While these guys do all right with the heavy parts, it's definitely in the build up, the gathering of tension, where they excel.
It's a shame that they weren't satisfied with staying completely instrumental, though. For some reason (I'm thinking it was drugs, personally), they got Pete Dolving in from THE HAUNTED to do some vocals. Well, not sure if they're vocals, as that implies some sort of ability. Ok, they got Pete Dolving in to do some 'spookay' mumbling. Not really quite sure what he's going on about (some sort of apocalyptic stuff, Global Warming and what not) but regardless, it totally doesn't fit, it doesn't add to the atmosphere, all it does is break up the flow of some otherwise excellent instrumental interplay. This album would've got a 8,5 if Dolving wasn't here, but he is, so instead of this being a good but cliched Post-Rock album, it becomes a good but cliched Post Rock album with really shit vocals, which is a bummer.
Still, no matter how hard he tries, Dolving can't completely ruin this album. The instrumental interplay is really nice, the drums in particular are excellent, and the whole package is very satisfying (with most of it being vocal free, also a plus.) This isn't really a must buy, as there's a lot of much better Post Metal out there, but nonetheless this is a pretty good album, and it will be interesting to see what they do in their next album.
(Online December 8, 2007)