Last year, JR Robinson, under the pseudonym of Wrekmeister Harmonies, unveiled his second record (and first for Thrill Jockey), You’ve Always Meant So Much To Me, a painfully misleading title for what turned out to be a morose and unsettling intersection between the avant-garde and doom metal.
Now we’re staring into the prospect of third album Then It All Came Down.
Much like its predecessor, Then It All Came Down is one expansive track going over 30 minutes, flowing and meandering through very distinct peaks and troughs while maintaining an all-important cohesion throughout.
Then It All Came Down suggests a more ominous tone from the off and somehow, Robinson has crafted yet another harrowing piece of work here, but one that is still utterly compelling. This new offering very much feels like an accompanying and complementary work, like the second chapter of a much greater tale.
Once again, Robinson is joined by a cast of guest musicians that add their own cogs to this “pastoral doom” oeuvre, including Sanford Parker from Twilight and Corrections House, Yakuza’s Bruce Lamont as well as members of Codeine, Leviathan and Indian.
Whereas You’ve Always… initiated with lengthy ambient passages toying with whirring electronics, Then It All… turns to some new tools, namely an initially inviting string section. You could make some vague comparisons to Godspeed You! Black Emperor in the tone and vibe created to open both records.
The first ten minutes of Then It All… are characterized by ghostly strings and chimes, soon joined by gurgling vocals heard in the distance and industrial noises, like something plucked from a noise record, only to recoil into a barren soundscape once again, led by lone strings.
Those unfamiliar with Wrekmeister Harmonies’ previous record could find themselves lulled into a sense of calm, but those au fait with You’ve Always… will feel a constant, nagging feeling, knowing something is around the corner.
While expected, the deafening crash of sludgy doom guitars doesn’t feel old as they come avalanching in next to deathly shrieks. From here, we run through manic twists and turns with Neurosis-level heft, and misanthropy dripping from each chord a la Eyehategod at their most sluggish.
Then It All Came Down, again like its predecessor, ends on a non-conclusive note despite leaving every emotion on display. It begs the question, what happens next?