WE LOST THE SEA- ‘Triumph & Disaster’

We Lost the Sea’s last album, the excellent ‘Departure Songs’, turned tragedy- the death of vocalist Chris Torpy- into triumph. Strong and sincere post-rock, it struck a chord inside the scene, escalating them towards the genre’s top tier, and in the wider world too. It took them around the planet on tour, sharing stages with the likes of Baroness, Russian Circles, and This Will Destroy You, and put them on movie and television soundtracks.

Somewhat befitting its title, ‘Triumph & Disaster’, the Australian outfit’s fourth full-length, is also marked by catastrophe, only this time on a global scale. Without words, the band have written about the apparently all-too imminent end of the Earth, as well as everything and everyone on it.

That might seem like simultaneously too grand a theme to tackle and too trite a thing to tackle it with, but the story suits the band’s sonic palette perfectly. They’ve already proven themselves capable of both apocalyptic fury and awestruck quiet and, now armed with glorious purpose, they’ve fine-tuned those assets into their best ever record.

Despite clocking in at 15 minutes, titanic opener ‘Towers’ doesn’t mess around. There is no slow, gentle introduction here- I guess you can’t kid glove the end of the fucking world- only searing guitars, pounding drums, and riffs and fire and rage. Post-rock is often described as hypnotic but that can sometimes be shorthand for something static or slow, something in the background. Six minutes into this and the swirling noise is truly capable of putting you in a trance.

The back half of ‘Towers’ feels more operatic, as insistent piano and doomy chords come to the fore, and for a moment it seems like the song will fade away, leaving you alone with your dread. That is until an almighty crescendo snaps into place, a thoroughly satisfying wedge of heaviness that would make a fine soundtrack to images of rainforest being mown down or glaciers calving far too soon.

Elsewhere, the end of ‘A Beautiful Collapse’ features a heavier breakdown than most hardcore bands have managed this year, and ‘The Last Sun’ could be Converge slowed down to stoner rock pace. It’s quite something how the band have captured the sounds of frustration, desperation, and sadness with no voice or lyrics to act as a guide.

This is also a record made for testing headphones as well as blowing out speakers. ‘Parting Ways’ begins in almost upbeat fashion, riding on a subdued but bouncy bass line, the feedback-free gentle melancholy of ‘Distant Shores’ feels like a true departure (and I’d take a whole album of it), while ‘Mothers Hymn’ features a haunting female voice over more sombre piano.

‘Triumph & Disaster’ isn’t easy listening then, at times its exhausting, but oh man is it worth the effort. Alone, any of these tracks could be considered great. Together, as one, they are outstanding. Here’s hoping the planet keeps us around long enough to give them the attention they deserve.

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