Overall Score: 8.3/10 Songwriting: 8/10 Atmosphere: 10/10 Hooks: 6/10 Pros: Crisp, ethereal production | Great songwriting Cons: Songs lack hooks
Coldbones are a post-rock band fresh out of Kent, having been working on their craft and building their fanbase over the past few years. Combining elements of shoegaze, metal and progressive rock into their post-rock sound, they’ve honed their skills with the release of 2014’s Distance EP and have since signed to Crooked Noise Records to release their debut full length, Where It All Began, earlier this year.
The primary concept of Where It All Began is in chronicling the life of a butterfly, with each track representing a particular stage in its life. This is evident in the quiet opener “Caspaces”, which bursts into life late on as the cocoon cracks open and releases the newly metamorphosed butterfly into its new life. Each track is brimming with optimism and uplifting atmosphere, utilising a whole range of guitar effects to fill the room with sound without the need for any keyboards or electronic interference. The production work on the album is stunning, with every strum of the guitar, every beat of the drum crystal clear, and a bass tone which perfectly complements the sonic experimentation of the guitars.
When we reach the track “Lost”, things get a bit more stripped back and the sort of effective repetition reminiscent of cult post-rock artist Cloudkicker comes into play. The track is much more straightforward in its structure than other parts of the album, but that makes it no less effective in its impact. This track marks a change in tone for the album at the same time, as things start to become more melancholy from “Cycle” onward. This point marks Coldbones moving from the optimism of a new life into the struggles of later life, and eventually, death, as the music becomes louder and more urgent before beginning to come to terms with the inevitability of our own mortality in “Decay”. The journey ends with a look into the mystery of what awaits after one’s time has come to an end, with “To Whatever End” venturing boldly into whatever there may be, through the cacophony of the unknown and out to the other side.
A slight problem with this album is that there are occasional moments where you can’t help but hear another band in there somewhere, and perhaps Coldbones are wearing their influences on their sleeves a little. Bittersweet epic “Moments” is one of these moments (no pun intended), with the guitars at times feeling strikingly similar to those of The Best Pessimist’s song “Walking With Happiness”. As mentioned before, there are also the occasional Cloudkicker-esque periods too, Nevertheless, the music of Where It All Began refuses to let these influences consume the overall sound of the album, which is able to stand on its own and carve out its own sound as a sum of these influences. The biggest real weakness, unfortunately, is the lack of proper hooks in the songs. While the music is stunningly and painstakingly crafted to create beautiful sonic imagery, one can walk away from this album for a few days and then come back to it barely remembering any track in particular. This can make it difficult to come back to, as you may remember it being good, but feeling put off because the lack of memorability makes it something you don’t really spin on the regular. On the flip-side, though, that makes the experience of listening to it and rediscovering it all over again that much better. Creating something that can stick in the mind and claw in casual listeners again and again must surely be next on the agenda for Coldbones when they start planning for album number 2, but with Where It All Began they are already showing they have all the other pieces of the puzzle ready and waiting to reach the net level.
Coldbones’ debut album Where It All Began is out now via Crooked Noise Records. Follow the band on Facebook.