Sunday, December 18, 2011

REVIEW: 40 Watt Sun – The Inside Room

I’m sort of going back over the year and picking up things here and there that I missed along the way. I’m the least productive hamster on this particular wheel, so when John told us we need to get ‘best of’ lists up over the next couple of weeks, I sort of panicked. Heavens to Murgatroyd, last year my top 20 only had 17 entries. Even as I write this post, I don’t know how many albums will be on this year’s list, but I’m here to tell you that The Inside Room, by the London-based power trio 40 Watt Sun, is going to be way on up there.

The album was released in the US in July by Metal Blade. You know, you think Metal Blade, you think Slayer or Cannibal Corpse, which might lead to some assumptions about 40 Watt Sun that just don’t match reality. The five songs on the album, together amounting to around 48 minutes, are melodic and slow and drowning in distortion. They are expansive and beautifully arranged. There is no violence – not even any screaming. Singer-guitarist Patrick Walker’s baritone has a solid, unaffected timbre that gives the whole production a mature feel. Listen to the third track, “Between Times”, and I know you’ll agree with me that this is a good thing.

The band seems to have been classified, for lack of a better option, as doom metal, but this music is not apocalyptic. Certainly it is world-weary and forlorn, but every track on The Inside Room is an actual non-cheesy love song written in the first person. I’m usually a terrible cynic when I hear this level of emotion in any music, much less heavy music, and yet here it strikes me as fully authentic and a hundred miles away from ‘emo’. Here’s a nice (if you’ll pardon the missing first 30 seconds or so) live clip of the band playing the album’s opener, “Restless”, at a festival this past summer:

So maybe these guys are creating their own subgenre, something along the lines of ‘shoegaze metal’, because they’re much closer to a wall-of-sound band like Twilight Sad than the more traditionally ‘doom’ bands like Sleep or Candlemass. Whatever you want to call it, it’s pretty damn close to brilliant.

40 Watt Sun band home

40 Watt Sun facebook

Metal Blade Records

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