Sub-genres. They’re the bane of every metalhead’s life and the cause of many an ill-fated Internet feud. Is it metalcore? Is it deathcore? Is it melodic death metal with a hardcore influence? It has too many breakdowns to be proper death metal but it’s too heavy and technical to be groove metal. It’s abound with tremolo picked riffs and keyboard atmospherics but it doesn’t sound like black metal. The great thing about doom metal is that it has no respect for genre guidelines and ranges from the melodic psychedelic swagger of Black Sabbath to the appallingly heavy While Heaven Wept by way of the slightly schizophrenic Neurosis. Doom metal is more about capturing a mood than about how the riffs are structured and that’s what makes it such a musically diverse genre. Nottingham’s Twilight’s Embrace have been busy exploring both ends of that genre.
Traces is the band’s latest EP, following their 2010 debut, Reflections, which earned them a slot at the following year’s Bloodstock festival as well as a place on a Metal Hammer covermount CD; impressive achievements for a band that, at the time, had only three recorded songs to their name. Reflections was an astounding first release and Traces follows suit, featuring a production that’s both dense and slick alongside the kind of song-writing talent that most bands take years to develop.
Twilight’s Embrace marry the weightier elements of metal to passages drenched in melancholy and gentle melody. The vocals range from crushing growls to clean singing to spoken word whilst the guitars grind along or sing softly, depending on what the mood calls for. By way of a yardstick, much of their sound is shared by Swedish veterans Draconian, including the simple repeated guitar lines and powerhouse drumming.
‘The Path’ is the closest the band come to writing something resembling a radio-friendly hit, comprising the bounciest, feel-good riff known to doom as well as a delicious vocal hook. The drumming isn’t quite what you’d expect from a maths teacher, but Allan Sharp’s attention to composition and space as well as his rare instinct of knowing precisely when to lean on the bass drums, and doing so sparingly, really drives the music forward. ‘The Final Night’ is, by comparison, a much slower, bleaker piece, its guitar chords droning along and wringing every ounce of tone from the strings. It’s also a chance for frontman Dee Christopher to show off his talent for writing broad, majestic sounding vocal melodies.
The final piece, ‘Demons’, provides an epic conclusion to the EP, soaring and plummeting with more tempo changes and contrasts between aggression and tenderness that one can keep track of. The guitars express themselves with all the ability and emotion of a human voice whilst the drums pick up momentum towards the end, dragging the song reluctantly to its terminus. The only criticism is that, whilst the aggressive vocals sound absolutely monstrous, the clean ones are slightly weaker and shaky in parts, but as far as criticisms go it’s a very minor one.
Traces is a collection of songs that belies the lifespan of the band. The compositions are majestic and the players compliment each other perfectly in a rather holistic manner. More importantly, Twilight’s Embrace aren’t concerned with creating songs that fit into genres; they’re concerned with creating moods and that is precisely what makes them so enjoyable to listen to. The only problem is that, at three songs, it’s far too short and surely just a glimpse of what they are capable of.
Twilight’s Embrace’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/twilightsembrace