Genre-defining albums have sprinkled metal’s history with those few releases that transcend what’s been done before. Metallica’s Kill ‘Em All taught us metal could be heavy and still be rock and roll, Quiot Riot’s Metal Health ushered in a decade of hair bands, and Nirvana’s Nevermind killed that decade with a single song. More recently, Amorphis gave us Skyforger and showed us that metal didn’t have to be formulaic and boring. Post-metal needs such a defining moment. Something that will change its direction, surprise and inspire us. Belgian band Grown Below’s debut release The Long Now might provide that moment.
The Long Now is a guitar-driven atmospheric album, with long songs that build like symphonies, telling a story with sound and lyrics. They incorporate the best of slow metal styles, and even add some violin into the mix.
Guitars on the album are unique in that there are few rhythms. Instead, Grown Below uses different techniques to get a particular feel to each song and even each song part. For instance, title track The Long Now uses picking through most of the song, creating a chilling effect. Devoid of Age uses more chords with a few rhythms below reverb-heavy riffs.
While guitars on The Long Now are superb, it’s the vocals that really push it over the top. Grown Below uses the prerequisite deep growls to give the album a heavy sound, but adds something completely unexpected – singing. Not just run-of-the-mill singing, but beautiful male and female voices singing harmonies, and just like the guitars, each voice drives a particular emotion or feeling at just the right moment.
With Grown Below, drum and bass play second fiddle to guitar, filling in rather than driving the songs. The bassist and drummer both play competently, but there’s nothing that really makes them stand out. The Abyss is their best song, where a nice bassline teams with a jazz beat, laying a foundation for the guitars and vocals to build on.
Will Grown Below change post-metal forever? Only time will tell. With The Long Now, Grown Below has laid down the gauntlet, and the rest of the world can only play catch-up. While metal fans will surely love this album, I highly recommend the experience that is The Long Now to music lovers of all stripes.
Buy the album here: grownbelow.bandcamp.com/album/the-long-now
- Trojan Horses
- Devoid of Age
- The Abyss
- Minaco II – Nebula
- End of All Time
- The Long Now
Grown Below – The Long Now