Downfall of Gaia – Suffocating in the Swarm of Cranes
Posted by Terrible Certainty Zine
Germany’s Downfall of Gaia started life as a crust band, and the remaining vestiges of that frenetic aggression gives life to their brand of contemporary post-metal. Their genre hopping style blends and alternates between emphasis on black metal and sludgy hardcore aesthetics. These genres butt up against each other in a surprisingly comfortable and effective way, and when Suffocating in the Swarm of Cranes is at its best it deals out some downright oppressive dirges. The band completely avoids clean vocals, even in its lighter moments, opting instead for a growling fury which pairs with the active, punishing drumming of Johannes Stoltenburg to shape the band’s looming, dark mood. Shimmering guitar lines morph in and out of black and post-metal styles, often only by shifting tempos. At their best Downfall of Gaia will draw loose comparisons to everyone from Agalloch to Abandon—two bands that have little in common other than quality.
Where Downfall of Gaia loses ground is in its attempts to occupy the space between these two genres. When the band goes the more ethereal, spacious route the result is standard post-metal fare. Predictable and with little flair. These guys are far more effective when leaning on an organic, primal sound. When they add tribal percussion to those lush, emotive tones (the tail end of “I Fade Away”) they’re on much safer ground. Clearly the band’s endgame is a dynamic, emotionally compelling sound, but the fact is these guys win when they draw blood, like on true opener “Drowning By Wing Beats,” which deftly shifts between black metal blasting and caustic sludge, and the throbbing mountainous stagger of “Giving Heir to the Masses.”
Suffocating in the Swarm of Cranes is not without its flaws but its varied approach to post-metal and percussive-driven aggression are impressive enough to make it a record worth exploring, and make a statement that Downfall of Gaia is a band to watch.
Suffocating in the Swarm of Cranes hits stores October 9th via Metal Blade