The Portland group Coastlands captures a magnificently pummeling post-rock exploration of emotional desperation on their hard-hitting new record Death, which is available now via Translation Loss Records in the U.S. and Dunk!Records in the E.U.
The band performs post-rock with a deeply resonant and very heavy sound, with a real physical intensity coursing through the work. This kind of ragged vibe carries over into the emotional side of the listening experience, as the album delivers a somewhat startlingly forceful portrait of turmoil. The sound feels consistently rather direct, and the turmoil seems real — within the world of the album’s sternly persistent musical thunder, there’s a feeling like watching a long-abandoned countryside family home go up in flames. Death isn’t subtle.
The album’s opening track, “Abandoner,” opens on a rather formidable, cacophonous note, as if capturing a soundtrack for massive chunks of a towering mountain steadily crashing to the earth. The song eventually moves into somewhat gentler territory, but the riffing still feels invigoratingly searing, as if the bassline itself carries the feeling of an onslaught of scorching rays from the sun on a cloudless day on some barren windswept wilderness. The song returns to more physically formidable performances in its conclusion, and there’s a feeling of epicness in the rather dramatic rhythms. The riffs carry rather beefy, post-metal-adjacent tones, and Coastlands are mostly rather energetic, which makes the album’s journey a bit more accessibly vibrant.
The album is mostly vocal-less. Softer moments frequently feel more like a thin shoreline at the edge of a vast raging sea than some kind of all-encompassing respite. “Red Smoke Flare” opens with peace before Coastlands promptly launch into brisk waves of rattlingly heavy rhythms. Repeated blasts of confrontational — and again, quite markedly heavy — riffs conclude the track with a desperate urgency, like staring at the sky and asking for some kind of peace. This earnest longing for stability and this push through the weighted haze feel like communal experiences, and brightness actually begins to peek through in the surprisingly somewhat triumphant moments that open the album’s closing track, “Marrow.”
Coastlands sound intense right from the get-go, so there’s not ever really an uncertainty about embarking on the journey that’s expressed in the album in the first place. Their music feels more geared towards pushing against the dusty emotional winds and trying to find some shelter from the haze while maintaining a desperate and passionate attachment to sort of life-giving vitality in the first place. The sheer power of the thick-toned songs gives something stable and strong to hold onto while journeying through the sharply choppy seas that flow across the record. Coastlands definitely do not sound like they gloss over the grimmer side of the dynamic, but the settling magnificence stands all the same, even if haunted by the heaving lurches of powerful heaviness.