Of The Heavy Sun – After Dark (2018) –

Of The Heavy Sun

After Dark

Self-Released/Independent

Sounding much different from it’s cover may entail, the new album from these Arkansas post rockers is surprisingly potent, although incredibly short. To call this an album might be a bit of an overreach as it feels like a short EP performance.

Opener “Spirits” called to me, especially after listening to the album where I later partook a conversation with Joe Rogan and Elon Musk – you know the one. And yes, this is before it received media attention. It was that “we’re just monkeys floating deep in space” line that kept coming into my head as Musk talked about simulations and traversing the stars. “Wildman” is a bit more punchy, as it encroaches a slight punk vibe, yet still manages to keep a sound lodged between prog and post-rock. The chorus here is especially catchy, but I’m definitely not thinking of floating monkeys. “New Moon” maintains a dreamy vibe with synths, packing in a chorus that slightly reminds me of The Offspring. “Space Legs” definitely punches up the groove while maintaining a synthy, trippy atmosphere. As usual, the vocal lines here are delivered brilliantly. However, I noticed that as much as I enjoyed the opener, the vocal lines seem a bit raw on “Spirits” compared to the rest of the album. There seems to be a bit more clarity and harmony further on, which isn’t a good thing for the band as reviewers that won’t take their time to listen to the whole album might notice that slight hiccup and consider the band amateur, which they most certainly are not. “Staring Into Nothing” fits right at home in a psychological/sci-fi based visual novel. This is just a sample of what I think should be a one-off project. I’d be down to hear some more of this. Any developers looking to make a mindfuck OELVN, you’ll definitely find what you’re looking for there. Question is, can it be reproduced?

Getting back to the album, an absurdly trippy “No Way Out” comes next, with an acoustic ballad in “Sudoku In The Bathtub” to follow. The flute influence definitely peppers the experience, as well as the glassy synths. Guys, don’t get rid of these synths – I don’t think you yet realize how important they are to your sound. Ignore the purists, this adds a whole new dimension to post rock that unfortunately hasn’t really been touched upon. Though dare I throw this in another genre drawer labeled electronic post-rock or symphonic post-rock? It’s also interesting how much the vocals seems to take a glassy Maynard James Keenan approach, though I’d place it more with the ill-fated Ashes Divide. Yes, I’m comparing these guys to Billy Howerdell’s solo project and that to me is a great thing. “Ebb and Flow” finishes off the appetizer, but it feels like a main course at this point. I’d love it if the record was a bit longer, but I’m definitely not about to leave upset after hearing this.

I just have one major problem with the cover art. It’s a bit gloomy and doesn’t really match the music. It’s like putting power metal artwork on a death metal album – it just doesn’t fit, and this art feels kind of like grim black metal, which these guys certainly aren’t. Something a bit brighter and trippy would have worked more in their favor, because that’s how the music sounds and how it should be marketed officially. I know that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but people do. It’s just kinda dark – which I don’t think works all that well, even though I like the artwork as a whole. In any case, if you’re looking for a synthy kind of prog rock that will bring up moments of nineties alternative, then you’re going to find it here.

Of The Heavy Sun can go very far with this sound and yes, the radio should be caring about these guys too. iheart Radio needs to get on this one. It would be much better than the latest Imagine Dragons single I heard on our local modern rock station a few weeks back. How did those guys even become modern rock? I thought they were pop music. That aside, definitely give the album a listen over at the link below and let me know if you agree with what I’ve said about the album cover and opener track.

(8 Tracks, 26:00)

8.3/10

Purchase HERE (Bandcamp)

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