Blizzard at Sea
“All that I see are the photons, vibrating strings propagating down through the geometry of the higher dimensions. There’s a world that I’m unaware of because it’s not the world I’ve been shown. History is in me. It’s just so easy to forget.”—“Longevity.”
I quote the third and final track from Blizzard at Sea’s second release, Individuation, to point out a subtlety in the band’s songwriting: the lyrics.
The music is a sludgy brontosaurus of metal with a long tail dragging through the muddy, dusty history of bands that came before it. It isn’t possible to tack Blizzard at Sea to any general genre of metal—though the recipe seems to be very post-metal. It is a swirling primordial soup of complex time changes that melds math metal with stormy, moody death metal, with a bit of progressive rock DNA thrown into the mix.
The death growl and hardcore vocal style renders the lyrics unintelligible, but they are provided in the liner notes (available when you purchase the CD) to help decipher the songs. The lyrics reveal not a fatalistic death spiral that the music would indicate, but rather smart dissertations on the alienation experienced by trying to understand the underlying meaning of life, the universe and everything in between. The lyrics from the 18-minute-long third track seem more likely to have been penned by such artists as Neil Peart of Rush than by a band whose focus is the kind of sinewy, bombastic metal that is dealt by Blizzard at Sea.
Reading along with the lyrics forces me to consider the words in the context of the onslaught of riffs, guttural shouting and pounding drums. We do get a break from the growls during the meditative chant of “Accelerating Returns,” offering some harmonies that are reminiscent of Metallica or Alice in Chains.
I think that the formula of Blizzard at Sea’s Individuation works at a couple of levels: It offers an adrenaline rush from the music, but also space for contemplation with the lyrics. This album is certainly a challenge to the listener, yet one that is worth hanging on through to the end.
Michael Roeder is a self-proclaimed “music savant.” When he’s not writing for Little Village he blogs at http://www.playbsides.com.