It seems that any time a genre comes into fashion, we eventually see a vast number of bands climbing into the ring, putting up their dukes and battling it out to find some way to separate themselves from the rest of the fracas and stand atop the heap of the weaker sound-alikes and wannabes. It takes something special to survive under these circumstances, and with the rise of the instrumental post-rock/post-metal sound, this war is occurring as we speak. Seattle's X Suns are currently poised to be one of the very few bands in this particular fight able to throw down their instruments of destruction and victory-dance their way onto bigger and better things. "Why is that, SRG?" you might ask. Well let me just throw this out there as a humble postulation: maybe it's because they know that before you can move into anything "post-," you have to understand the pre.
Okay, I know there is no such thing as pre-metal or pre-rock -- we like to use the much more ur-sounding "proto-" for that schtick -- but what I'm saying is that you gotta know the roots of the music that you are responding to, transforming, and extracting from. Look at any of the more successful post- bands out there today and you will see that it's something strikingly similar that they all share. Take the current kings of the hill, Russian Circles, for example: they have Brian Cook, formerly of some of the most batshit crazy hardcore-aligned bands of the last two decades, including Botch and These Arms Are Snakes. And likewise, one of the early great entrants into the genre, Red Sparowes, had members from such renowned heavy stalwarts as Neurosis (at least, in their amazing early days) and Isis (who themselves eventually became firmly post- as it sounds today). These guys had a history of churning out brutality before settling back a bit and trusting in their musicality to bring out something a bit more emotionally dynamic and, arguably, larger in scale and scope, but they never lost that appreciation of, or a temperance from, their brutal beginnings. X Suns (by the way, it's worth noting that the X is Roman numerical) share this trait, as their members are well-versed in the heavy -- with drummer Trent McIntyre serving triple-duty in such ferocious projects as Grenades and Old Iron, and guitarist Skippy Tim King, previously flexing his rock chops in Patrol. They've undergone some personnel changes in the guitarist department, but everybody involved has this similar sensibility. It was evident in their eponymous first EP, when they were still a three-piece (King filled out the dual-guitar role shortly after), and it has carried over to their excellent follow-up, The Greys, which will see a digital release next week, with a physical release to follow.
We here at SRG are pleased as punch to be premiering "High Life Refined Palates," the expansive middle track from The Greys. Masterfully recorded by Christiaan Morris (who is making quite a name for himself as a worthy engineer in town with his recent work on the Lozen and Grenades goodies) and mixed down by the mighty Matt Bayles (if you don't know who that is, then...yeah, you probably aren't reading this), the record sounds as lush and thick as these guys have proven to deserve. Hopefully, all of the bullshit written above starts to make sense as you hit play below and settle in with the deceptively calm, strolling beauty, belied by an underlying intensity, until, in a seemingly organic process, it all culminates in a series of cascading (dare I say mathy?) riffs, before launching into a blissfully soaring bridge and the thunderous finale. It becomes pretty obvious during a good listen to, not only this song, but the rest of the new EP what separates these studious artists -- who understand their roots and what about them is worth hanging onto -- from their naive peers.
Be sure to download a copy for yourself next week, and catch them as they continue to fight the good fight with Breag Noafa at the Blue Moon this Thursday.