The London-based post-metal band Wren sound absolutely massive on their crushing new album, Groundswells. Diving into the album feels like standing in the path of some kind of humongous mudslide. From the first track onward, the richly textured drums feel pummeling and the guitar riffs feel equally pummeling, as if the band have captured the sound of some kind of giant sledgehammer getting slung into the earth over and over again.
There’s a well of real power that runs through the music, which feels exemplified by the strong, melodic core. The strength of the repeating riffs and cacophonous drum patterns feels piercing, even through the haze of the physically foreboding aspects of the music.
Groundswells feels, all in all, like a richly demanding, all-encompassing experience. The heaviness is front-and-center right from the get-go. The first song, called “Chromed,” features repeating, huge-sounding, sludgy riffs, which take on the character of a kind of sludgy post-metal in the band’s work. The extended melody-driven, immersive atmosphere of post-metal is present — and it’s filled up with earth-rattling heaviness.
By the end of that track, Wren have turned towards some intriguingly intricate and propulsive drum-driven rhythms, and the sudden infusion of energy bleeds across the whole listening experience, for a moment at least. The next track, “Seek the Unkindred,” starts off on a slightly slower note, but the full breadth of Wren’s pummeling heaviness remains firmly in place.
There’s an air of piercing certainty running through the music, and the sense of careful control that pervades the huge heaviness makes it feel perhaps even more poignant. The band haven’t only presented a whirlwind of sound; they’ve fashioned the energy of that whirlwind into a sharply fine-tuned point.
There’s a lot of finely-tuned riff repetition across Groundswells — and there’s never a sense of anything getting overdone. The listening experience feels like quite the opposite, really. Wren sound like they’re guiding listeners into some kind of meeting with some of the raw power that stands at the center of some of the natural processes that proceed around us on a daily basis, whether or not we pay attention. There’s an interestingly gripping stability amidst all the heaviness of the album’s journey, which comes into especially poignant focus on the album’s closing two tracks. On the first of these, called “Subterranean Messiah,” the strong melodic drive never lets up, but the music does get softer for some time. (The song features the U.K. post-rock band Fvnerals.) The closing track, called “The Throes,” starts out on a seemingly krautrock-inspired note — the texture of the music temporarily evolves more towards the hoarse riffs of rock, and as the riffs repeat, the album’s richly immersive atmosphere gets even more firmly set.
Check out the music below! Groundswells by Wren is available now via Gizeh Records.