Split EPs are always a mixed bag, with some passing you by too quickly thanks to the brevity of the tracks, or others being completely sharted up the wall by one of the contributors. Emerald laughs at those tropes and delivers an experience that is psychedelic, crushing, and truly captivating. Psychonaut, who quickly shot to relevance in the progressive metal and doom scene, first with their independent and subsequently re-released debut LP Unfold The God Man, dish out a wonderful track that encompasses the full range of their sound, whilst teasing the many boundaries they can push.
SÂVER on the other hand has existed in other metal forms prior to their debut, and they throw all conventions away for their sound. No band unsettles me like SÂVER, their music has a way of choking your emotions, before opening Pandora’s box and unleashing the full fury of the titans upon you. Their track is otherworldly and pretty damn abusive for your speakers. Let us dig in.
Psychonaut – “The Great Realisation”
Despite following and spinning Psychonaut numerous times prior to this review, Unfold The God Man never stuck, because I simply didn’t absorb it. Having spent the last month bathing in its psychedelic embrace, not to mention the new track, I can firmly call myself a convert. I certainly think “The Great Realisation” unlocked that, because it condenses a lot of the sounds found throughout their debut into this one manageable package that leaves you wanting more.
The track is heavily conceptual, like their debut, focusing heavily on how the human mind is so untapped and that we have so much more to give back to our reality. This track explores the relationship between humanity and mother nature, split into five movements that tell an intricate story. And with that depth of concept comes some excellent songwriting, with each movement blending seamlessly into another, providing a listening experience that is ideal to use as a soundtrack, or to simply sink into and enjoy.
One of the first things you’ll notice about the track is the excellent variation in guitar tones, and to the extent they are used to shift the mood. Opening with trippy, resonate chords, which are reminiscent of ’70s prog, you are soon welcomed into the post-metal arms of the band with thundering drums, thrumming bass, and gritty vocals thrown at you. Psychonaut are masters of layering, complemented by a brilliant mix that allows the vocals room to breathe, whilst still encasing you in a wall of brutal sound. Yet they are also great at stripping back their sound, choosing to often lather their listeners in waves of noodling guitars that send you to the stratosphere. You’ll find multiple peaks and troughs in the music, all building into epic moments, giant vocal hooks, or crashing breakdowns.
The vocal hooks around nine minutes are some of my favourite of the year, with the blend of clean and harsh singing really welcome, especially as the trippier ranges that the singer can reach really lend themselves to the overall effect of the music. The smart use of djembes and tribal music later in the track really helps the psychedelic experience, and also drive it towards its final, brutal conclusion. Psychonaut unleashes hell, with colossal riffs that will have you stop what you do to bang your head. The clever use of guitar tones again makes the final doomy conclusion that much heavier. One thing is for sure, it’s a good thing SÂVER‘s track doesn’t start off too crazy. Brilliant track, by a band we should all be paying more attention to.
[Editor’s note: please understand there’s no videos or pre-release embeds available to show off these tracks, but hey, these older songs from each band will give you a taste of the vibe of each great group until release day]
SÂVER – “Dimensions Lost, Obscured by Aeons”
The second track on the EP by SÂVER is technically two in itself, but again, they flow so nicely, it might as well be one as listed. The first half of the track sees Ole Rokseth go ham with Moog synthesizers, starting off slow with ’80s sci-fi sounds that build into an oppressive, confusing, yet amazing section of music. In all my years, I haven’t heard bass like that contained within this track, and I don’t think Volkswagen have either. Home speakers, fine; headphones, fine; car speakers, nearly blown out. I was jamming this beauty (loudly) on the way to see a friend and after one or two minutes once the bass kicked in, it began to feel like my head was exploding. Soon after, my speakers were telling me enough was enough as well. I turned the bass right down, but the frequencies SÂVER found are something truly special with it still causing my car issues on low, continuing to pummel me until the eight-minute mark where part two kicks in. Inter-dimensional bass or just bad engineering?
For those who listened to their debut, They Came With Sunlight, you’ll know the trademark guitar sounds that SÂVER employs. The gritty, depraved distortion on the main guitars is back, complemented with the pummeling, untethered bass and gargantuan drums. As before, SÂVER uses a lot of repetitive chords with micro-transitions embedded within, which allows them to deftly switch the tempo of the music around and charge towards brutal climaxes that could tear the earth apart. Some might find this repetitive style too jarring, but many will find solace in the tantric grooves of the band.
It would be uncouth not to mention the cinematic value of the music, however, with the procession-esque vibes fantastic for walking long distances to, or used as a soundtrack to a chore or game. The way the band hang on chords and sections allows you to focus on what you’re doing and really expend your energy into it. The limited use of vocals also helps this, and I find myself largely snapping back to focus on the song when the lyrics kick back in. I enjoyed the clean vocals in the track, again delivering some great hooks that really get you involved. The harsh, as always, is unsettling and macabre too, utilised just enough as well, with sprawling instrumentation sections more the focus of the band. The massive climax is typical for the band, and it is a toss-up for who did it heavier between SÂVER and Psychonaut. Both tracks are equally stunning, making this split one of the must-listens of the year. The long track lengths give both infinite replayability, with hidden nuances and great moments sure to delight over and over. Don’t delay in checking out Emerald.