Dedicated to an uncompromisingly bleak formula, Quiet Man take their post-sludge and noise textures into dark and impenetrable surroundings.

Release date: July 14, 2023 | Cursed Monk Records | Facebook | Bandcamp

Resonant of the murky, downtrodden streets of Philly, Pennsylvania five-piece Quiet Man are doom metal’s latest mainstays contributing to the genre with enough noise, abrasion, and suspense to engage even the most degenerate doom and sludge metal listener. The band’s debut release came in 2016, entitled S/T, to which the band would formerly adopt the name God Root. Subsequent records under this pseudonym, 2017’s Salt and Rot and 2019’s split with Manikineter The Dirt Will Reclaim All It Has Lost, were early signs of soul-suffocating, brutalising, and foreboding heaviness that oozed amplitudes of doominess familiar to the likes of Thou and Body Void. Since taking time away from recording for a short period, the band have appeared to rebrand themselves under a new moniker, with a fresh offering of material that promises to deliver eerie soundscapes, abrasive instrumentals, and enduring cynicism. To put it simply, Quiet Man’s debut The Starving Lesson could be summed up as the bastardised noise child of Neurosis and Sunrot.

Dynamically, there is a lot of experimentation going on between tracks from eerie melodic patterns that set the mood for the foreboding heaviness and noise-trodden measures that are composed of dissonance and volatility. The opening track “Pressure to Burrow” places these dynamic shifts into motion, the apprehensive guitar riffs drive the incensing doom and sludge sections forward adding more power and adrenaline. A handful of shorter tracks “At Operating Temp” and “The Post Abandoned” also accompany this subdued sense of impending sonic extremity, the former being field recordings and radio broadcast signals from possibly an operating room or a distress signal whilst the latter is a muffled soundscape that barely resembles the sound of a guitar drenched in reverb and lo-fi static. It’s within these ominous auditory spaces that we can delve into the album’s fundamentally nihilistic tone.

As the record continues, one can expect a barrage of tense, catacombic discordance boiling over into their speakers in violent fashion. The album’s third track “From Tomorrow’s Dead Hiss” is a dissonantly jarring and progressive piece that serves as the record’s longest at almost 13 minutes. The track divides its structure into earthy and soft timbral periods with dark melodic guitar parts, whining stringlike patterns, and agonisingly distressing vocal cries that develops from a progressive Cult of Luna ballad to a unforgiving imitation of Khanate, then reaching its abrasive and volatile side with pummelling, distorted drone patterns and thunderous percussive measures that unleash their most pessimistic and ugliest desires. Similarly, “Set To Boil Is The New Standard” is just as the title would suggest, you can get a sense of the track’s dismal and violent tendencies from the intimidating textural feedback that demands a heavy and sludgy response in return.

The album’s title track “The Starving Lesson” pursues this tense and hostile atmosphere in more complexity, from sharp, trembling, slow riffs that bleed out with degeneracy that assemble into open spaces of vast, eerie sonic terror, resembling indie horror-esque film tropes to some degree. The final track “All Along, We Were Beautiful Radiant Things” is a noise-soaked finale to this abrasive and bleak musical experience. The grainy drones reverberating from the low end of the instrumentation are enhanced by the serene textures that soon follow. As the sounds drift, they fade into a trance-like state of hellish decay.

It’s hidden gems like The Starving Lesson that really show you how much variety and depth there is within much of doom metal’s underground. Across many regional doom, sludge, and post-metal scenes artists are engaging, experimenting, and developing a whole range of sonic tools and techniques to keep this kind of music alive and relevant. Quiet Man are certainly one of these bands that is finding new directions to take heavy music down, and whilst taking many elements of the more established names in the genre, they are able to create something that is formidable and intimidating to a new generation of fans and casual listeners.

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