And So I Watch You From Afar – Gangs (Richter Collective)

June 21, 2011 by  

Belfast based instrumental rockers And So I Watch You From Afar have followed up their electrifying self-titled debut with their latest long player “Gangs”. With the quartet quickly rising from obscurity, it is without a doubt that they have been one of the most talked about rock bands from Northern Ireland over the past few years as well as being one of the most thrilling and dedicated live acts, (where they average over 100 shows a year) which hopefully, the energy of those performances would transfer effortlessly on to record.

There is certainly no messing around with the album opener “BEAUTIFULUNIVERSEMASTERCHAMPION” as the listener is instantly thrust upon an intense introduction full of crunchy guitar hooks, thundering bass and lively drums. With only a few minutes in, it is already becoming clear that the band are pushing harder than ever before to push their explosive math-rock sound to another level and “BEAUTIFULUNIVERSEMASTERCHAMPION” sets the scene very nicely indeed.

With “Think:Breathe:Destroy”, there is a hardcore riff thrashed energetically until a superb middle section; where an almost jig like harmonised guitar lead excels against a backdrop of heavy bass and thrashing drums that concludes in a mass of ambient textures. “Gang (Starting Never Stopping)” also uses a similar calm finish, almost as a way for their listeners to catch their breath back after being subjected to a glorious array of high pitched guitars that ring out vigorously alongside some stomping drums – with the overall sound being held together by a rumbling bass part.

One of the key factors in “Gangs” brilliance is the bands’ expert musicianship and ability to come up with tons of inventive riffs per track let alone for an album’s worth (apparently the band had over twenty song ideas before starting the album again from scratch). Probably the best song that showcases this is the 10 minute epic “Homes – ..Samara To Belfast” where numerous innovative guitar parts are powered by sharp percussion that develops into nosier territory, before contrasting into faint guitar patterns that then progress towards a wall-of-noise climax.

Of course there is a lot more to ASIWYFA than blasting up to eleven, “7 Billion People all Alive at Once” proves that the band can take the listener on a journey just as well as their post-rock peers, due to its gentle guitar lead that gradually delves towards a heavier sound before triumphant chants (and a rare use of vocals) carry the song superbly through a waltz time signature. There is even a surprising rhythmic samba outro on the album closer “Lifeproof” that finishes the album with a joyful carnival vibe.

It is ASIWYFA’s ability to pack so many great sounding ideas into 45 minutes worth of music that really impresses – so it comes as no surprise that “Gangs” is a very enjoyable listen all the way through. This gang from Belfast certainly know how to deliver not just a great instrumental-rock record, but simply a great rock record that manages to sound ambitious with a clear-cut template of guitars, bass and drums.

[rating:4.5]


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