Eight Captivating Post-Rock Gems From 2020 That You Might Have Missed

If you’re interested in a bunch of great post-rock and post-rock-adjacent music, keep on reading! This article features post-rock with heavy prog riffs, minimalism, lush shoegazey tones, otherworldly electronica, and a lot more. This article includes All Shall Be Well (And All Shall Be Well and All Manner of Things Shall Be Well), بث تخريبي (Bathi Takhribiin), The Compleat Angler, Juneau, La Drache, le_mol, Lucida Dark, and Star of Heaven.

All Shall Be Well (And All Shall Be Well and All Manner of Things Shall Be Well) – Zwartgroen

On their new album Zwartgroen, the Netherlands-based group All Shall Be Well… capture minimalist post-rock that feels infused with emotional power.

The band’s compositions don’t quite get into Bohren & Der Club of Gore territory, but their songs do consistently feel quite restrained — and at the same time, every note feels like it’s shimmering with lovely, emotionally stirring illumination, as if listening to the album is a soundtrack for the experience of watching the sun rise after a rainy night. Imagining a rain-covered field of flowers gradually more illuminated by the yellowy sun seems easy while listening to this band’s new record.

The group captures some powerful crescendos on Zwartgroen, but they also capture striking musical portraits of the journey on either side of those peaks, as if listeners have stopped to explore flowers growing along the side of a looming mountain. Many of the drum rhythms build with a rather regal-feeling flourish, with persistent, (mildly) intense builds, while “Beyond Us, Only Darkness” sticks to less direct and more mildly jazzy territory, helping establish the contemplative side. The sound of Zwartgroen is always lush, like peeking through a thicket of dewy overgrowth – this element feels particularly front-and-center on track four, which clocks in at almost 11 minutes and is the longest track on the record. Although that song and other moments lean into more drawn out, musically windswept terrain, other moments, like the end of track one, build into briefly louder musical areas.

Zwartgroen consistently features a feeling of emotional drama, which might feel surprising considering the quite gentle vibe of the record. The melodies that All Shall Be Well… perform on the record simply feel compellingly beautiful, and they’ve placed them in a strikingly accessible, “everyday”-feeling format, like they’re unearthing beauty in the mundane.


بث تخريبي (Bathi Takhribiin) – أنين (‘anin)

Egypt seems sometimes genuinely underrepresented in the global portrait of post-rock. The apparently Cairo-based project بث تخريبي — whose name appears to be written as Bathi Takhribiin in the English alphabet — has captured a genuinely moving and soulfully meditative piece of post-rock on their new song “أنين” (which appears to be “‘anin” in English letters).

The song moves through slow, swaying electric guitar melodies that are backed by surging contributions from a cello, which really helps establish the deeply contemplative vibe of the track. The melodies on the electric guitar carry the same kind of push-and-pull vibe as the emotionally earnest, longing-drenched cello performance. The vocals on this song add perfectly to the experience; each element unites to deliver the searing emotional intensity of the song. The listening experience feels somewhat like sitting alone on a frigid shore as the tide rolls in and out.

The music feels like a soundtrack for a moment of trying to cope with some kind of deep, weighty pain, perhaps along the lines of a sense of failure or a struggle to hang onto appropriately strong sense of self-worth. The melodies feel like they’re the moments of catharsis trying to break through the emotional haze captured by the heavy textures, which feel somewhat reminiscent of shoegaze.

The Compleat Angler – Cause & Effect

Cause & Effect, which is the new album from the Belgian post-rock duo The Compleat Angler, delivers a pristine and peaceful musical journey into a metaphorical great beyond.

The duo have included a sizable helping of electronic effects in their work, and rather than detracting from the richness of the foundational rock instrumentation, the shimmering electronica feels like a rather strikingly perfect addition. With all of their elements in hand — including a selection of socially-minded audio samples that appear across the record — The Compleat Angler feel like they’re working on charting some kind of emotional adventure through a potentially sometimes oppressive thicket of tension. The flickering guitar riffs, simmering basslines, and entwining drum rhythms themselves frequently feel like they carry a similar vibe as the ever-present electronica, as if the band has captured an attempt to bring lofty themes, like progress, more emotionally down to earth. There’s a gentle yet powerful persistence in the music, and it’s rather alluring.

There’s sometimes an otherworldly vibe in the music of The Compleat Angler; for instance, the opening of the curiously titled “First Contact” is one of many moments on Cause & Effect in which the duo leans heavily into the electronica. Outside of those more ethereal elements, the band also wields dynamic swings quite effectively. “Roll the Sea” and “Milonga,” for instance, feature riffing with spiking intensity, and “Take Me to Your Happy Place” features one of those nicely sweltering and grounding basslines. It’s easy to imagine the album as the poignant soundtrack for a very emotionally grounded science fiction/ space exploration movie.

Juneau – 20/20

On their new EP 20/20, which is the debut release from the band, the Belgian group Juneau sounds intriguingly powerful.

They bring their (entirely instrumental) music right up to the edge of a big chasm of energy, but they never fall all the way in. Even in the heaviest moments, when the music crescendos into a temporary whirlwind of heavy smacks of guitar melody and fiercely energetic guitar rhythms, Juneau maintain a strong melodic core. Some of the particularly heavy moments come towards the ends of “Ethos” and “A Slow Colour,” and during these musical onslaughts, there’s a real stability, like the band members are successfully hanging on whole trapped at sea amidst some kind of storm.

The melodic stability gives this three-track release a perhaps startling emotional grounding amidst the consistently heavy riffs. The EP is like standing in the shadow of some kind of majestically ominous natural formation.

“Worn Away,” which concludes the EP, feels like a particularly poignant unification of Juneau’s emotional connectivity with their attention-grabbing heaviness. The repeating guitar melodies that close the track carry a heavy yet emotionally illuminating weight. The riffs deliver a feeling like they’re the soundtrack to flowers blossoming across a field after a night of heavy rain, with stormclouds still ominously rolling by along the horizon.

La Drache – Pétrichor

The French group La Drache deliver an invigorating, prog-inflected brand of post-rock on their nicely engaging new EP, Pétrichor. 

The music feels strikingly grounded and rather experiential, like the sounds themselves are telling a story (which fits, since like a lot of post-rock music, there are no vocals on Pétrichor). Diving into that immersive “story” feels like a  journey through unfamiliar yet inviting terrain; the vibrancy of those prog-adjacent riffs and the related flourishes that the band have included atop the foundation of the extended post-rock melodies help establish this immersive feeling.

The EP’s opening track, “Cirrus 1,” captures the band’s sonic imprint nicely, alternating between heavy rhythms that feel slightly off-kilter and moments of more extended, simmering melody. “Cirrus II” carries a similar vibe, but there’s a track in between the two, “Madden-Julian,” on which the most overt heaviness shifts a bit to the back burner (except during the rather crushing conclusion). Even during the more atmospheric segments, La Drache include elements like sweltering basslines that keep the music grounded in their uniquely poignant vision. The closing track, “Virga,” gets into a heavy yet jazzy vibe, like dancing through rain with a rock band in the background.

To take a cue from the record’s cover art, which depicts a rainy cityscape, listening to Pétrichor feels a bit like venturing through some brightly lit, big city, as if the record is the soundtrack for venturing to some new locale for the first time. The nice thing about that journey — and the exploratory but emotionally open-ended music of La Drache — is that you can fill in blanks for yourself, making the experience your own.

le_mol – White Noise Everywhere

On their new album White Noise Everywhere, the intriguing Austrian post-rock duo le_mol have captured a striking, experimentalism-laced journey into mental unease.

The musicians include wistful passages of simmering electronics intermingled with rhythms that don’t quite fit with an ordinary, traditional flow across White Noise Everywhere. Many of the foundational rock music elements themselves feel slightly off-kilter, like during the steady closing segment of “Hands,” when an almost solitary-sounding drum rhythm slowly grinds to a halt. Tracks like album opener “Mdme Psychosis,” “1/f bruo,” and others hinge on instrumentation that’s totally distinct from the ordinary motions of rock. That first track leans more towards shimmering, bright-feeling ambiance, like rays of sunshine, while that second ambiance-focused track leans more towards simmering noise, like a slowly boiling pot. Another poignant element of the album’s dynamic mix is the vocals that appear on “Hands,” which sound reminiscent of Thom Yorke. Wistfulness along the line of some of Radiohead’s best-known cuts appears across White Noise Everywhere.

le_mol invigorate their work via loops of consistently uneasy sound, taking the rock foundation into a realm of strangely captivating uncertainty. As their new album proceeds, the ambiance-focused passages get increasingly unglued — “#ffffff limestone in july,” for instance, feels ominously static-leaning, although not exactly abrasive. Moments including the end of the title track and some of the lengthy “Takotusubo” feature bursts of energetic riffing, but le_mol always ground these moments in atmospheric unease, as if the record is a soundtrack for floating through mental space and getting a chance to survey its full breadth.

Lucida Dark – “They Never Come Back”

The Nebraska group Lucida Dark sound emotionally powerful on their new song “They Never Come Back,” which is their debut single.

The band’s weighted yet steady performances deliver a sense of venturing into some emotionally dark place with the light of a lantern to guide you. For whatever reason that adventurous types set off into the great unknown in indie movies, listeners seem likely to find themselves drawn on a spiritual level into the world that Lucida Dark have crafted. They’ve musically captured that sometimes fleeting sense of a desire to confront or at least venture into darkness. Shying away from it can be too tiring and unproductive — thus, Lucida Dark perform their emotional longing-drenched, melody-strewn musical journey.

The band’s debut song begins with softly strummed melodies that are accompanied by a steady, soft electronica melody in the background. As the three-minute mark approaches, the intensity in the music steadily increases; the heavy, persistent drum rhythm, for instance, abruptly takes a more prominent place. After about a minute at this midway point of heaviness, the song bursts forth with a wellspring of searing, emotionally intense riffs that feel like the musical encapsulation of a dam getting blown apart and whatever it was holding back coming rushing through the opening.

There’s a kind of tragedy that feels like it’s here. The riffs are powerful and the song construction is very solid in a regally persistent sense, but the slow-moving heaviness in the song sits like a steadily thickening emotional fog. The song title seems to aptly outline the emotional direction of the song. Sometimes the only way out is through.

Star of Heaven – To Our Memories

The Stockholm-based group Star of Heaven has captured a remarkably emotionally stirring version of ambiance-infused post-rock on their captivating latest album, To Our Memories.

The rich dynamic palette that the group draws from helps build their music’s intrigue; they include a violin and a piano in prominent positions alongside more traditional rock band instrumentation. The piano shines at moments including the first couple of tracks, while the violin blossoms on “Kino,” among other spots.

The band build their uniquely poignant imprint through other sources, too — the melodies across To Our Memories feel propulsive yet smooth, like the album is a soundtrack for stars shining in the night sky. There’s an inviting sense of gentleness in the melodies and these metaphorical stars; the band feel as if, within the record’s “world,” they’re inviting listeners out to peer at the open nighttime sky and bask in the beauty of the expanse. There’s definitely plenty of emotionally sincere drama in the music — the crescendos on the album’s closing track, for instance, are truly emotionally powerful to behold — but the music of Star of Heaven never gets unwieldy. Via their swaying, atmosphere-drenched melodies, they sound like they’re inviting observers to discover some beauty, wherever they can find it.