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Minsk: The Crash and the Draw

There's nothing quite like getting an unexpected letter. Even in these days of email, text messages, and Facebook messenger, it's still nice to receive something concrete in the mail, something one can hold and peruse at will. This new album is no letter, of course, but it nevertheless reaches out to the listener as directly as it can. The opening track "To the Initiate" is what makes this connection strong. It's a track that is not merely about initiation and ritual, as so many metal tracks are, but one that also draws everyone into its fold. The title is welcoming, doing so by addressing listeners directly and helping them gain a sense of what's to come. This is done with a quiet introduction, the kind that hints at what's to come but saves the real intensive material for later. One might call it the calm before the storm, but that cliché simply won't do. Instead, the music is an opening, an invitation to ideas about time, eternity, lost answers, and broken dreams. What does it all mean? The answers do not come easy; like Stephen King's gunslinger, the initiate to these lyrical reflections must embark on an endless cycle of exploration, one that ends in moments of insight, repetition, and, yes, continued bewilderment.

I'm mostly thinking about the lyrics to the opening track as I write this, but the music cannot be separated from the words, at least not easily. Minsk, a psychedelic metal band, tends to favor a weaving together of sustained notes, minimal arpeggios, and bellowing growls. Backed by steady drum beats, the music constantly advances forward, as if anxious to discover where the journey ends. But things are never that simple. The band consistently returns to the slow, mystical, introductions, building toward another climax where groove and doom await the listener. At the heart of this album lies a series of tracks that share the same title: "Onward Procession." As with "To the Initiate," the lyrics and music work together to comment on the problem of human mysteries—life and death, memory and forgetting, rebirth and return, cycles and blockades. However specific these themes may be, the lyrics set the mood without commentary. Still, as meditations on these topics, the music and lyrics are somewhat fascinating—but don't expect any clear answers. Remember when Ozzy sang, "Don't look to me for answers—I don't know?" Well, neither do the guys in Minsk. Unlike Ozzy, though, they nevertheless gesture toward the unknowable and wrap it in the enigma of timelessness. Mysteries aside, there's also some good metal here.

Track Listing:
1. To the Initiate
2. Within and Without
3. Onward Procession: These Longest of Days
4. Onward Procession: The Soil Calls
5. Onward Procession: The Blue Hour
6. Onward Procession: Return, The Heir
7. Conjunction
8. The Way is Through
9. To You There is No End
10. To the Garish Remembrance of Failure
11. When the Walls Fell

Added: May 7th 2015
Reviewer: Carl Sederholm
Related Link: Band Facebook Page
Hits: 1196
Language: english

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