Minsk are enormous. Granted, they don't do stadium tours, sell albums by the truckload, or cause queues outside your local [insert favoured record shop here]. Nevertheless, the noise they make is the sonic equivalent of having tonnes upon tonnes of stone lowered onto your chest, slowly and inevitably.
Their latest offering, With Echoes in the Movement of Stone, trades in some of the aggression of previous offerings with a touch more musical experimentation. None, however, of their muscular heaviness is diminished, their sound still thunders unrelenting through speakers taking no prisoners. The beauty of it though, is that it manages to do without solely relying on crushing slow riffs – Minsk maintain their intensity whilst still mixing in faster tempos and greater dynamic variation.
Because the songs tend to be multi-movement beasts, highlights pop up in all sorts of unexpected places, keeping the listener in a state of heightened expectancy. During "Three Moons" the gentle respite of riding hi-hats is all but obliterated by a monstrous section that sounds as if it was recorded in a high-domed cathedral; in "Almitra's Premonition" curtains of jangling guitars descend onto a previously cold and barren soundscape; and through the delicate opening of the closer "Requiem – From substance to Silence", the vibrating fragility of the guitar barely conceals the undercurrent of steadily growing noise. Moments like these give the album a sense of challenge and discovery unlike many of its contemporaries.
The album isn't entirely faultless however. At times the experimentation results in the band getting slightly lost in their own pieces: "The Shores of Transcendence" loses its way after a promising opening, and "Means to an End" descends into a trudging meander without much meaning a short while in. The album is also perhaps a little long for something with such a singular mood. However, these complaints pale in comparison with what the album does achieve; a sound so evocative it almost paints landscapes with its sound – and we aren't talking picket fences and village greens here… Minsk are enormous.
1. Three Moons
2. The Shores of Transcendence
3. Almitra's Premonition
4. Means to an End
5. Crescent Mirror
7. Consumed by Horizons of Fire
8. Requiem: From Substance to Silence