Ranges - Cardinal Winds

27 Aug 2021 - Sebastian

Post-Rock | A Thousand Arms / Dunk! Records | Release date: 27 Aug 2021

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After four singles it might not be a surprise that there’s a new Ranges album on the horizon. However what might surprise you is that the album is out right now! What should be no surprise is, that they have once again released an incredible album and further evolved their sound.

After last year’s Live at Post. Festival 2019 and the completion of 2019’s Babel with Confusion of Tongues, the Montana three-piece now drop Cardinal Winds with no prior announcement. With their singles they’ve possibly generated enough hype anyway and rightfully so. Enough of the prologue now, let’s dive into the album.

This dive leads us into the ”Abyss”. The album opener draws you in right from the start with the drum sticks counting to three and the immediate heaviness when the whole band starts to play. While the ”Abyss” might not be the darkest place, as it still has the guitars floating above the soundscapes the bass, drums and synths create, it for sure is a dense place. Just like the depths of the ocean, there’s light up above but the pressure is brutal and heavy, but at the same time always lets some light shine through. In some places this very thick and dense post-rock sound leans more towards the post-metal side, but it never forgets its roots. With the count-in at the start it feels more like a live recording than the live albums by some bands , which is a really good thing, at least for Ranges, because this makes the whole album feel very organic and tight, instead of an overproduced mess.

After this amazing first track we come to what might be the only gripe one could have with the album: the interludes. There are four interludes on the album, each named after a cardinal wind. They are always around 1:20 minutes long and separate the other songs. That also means that from the 9 songs only five are “real” songs and four of them were already released as a single. From what we learned from Ranges through the Babel album-cycle, it is totally possible that there might be more to those interludes and something will connect these in the future, but for now they are just four short ambient pieces in between five fantastic songs.

With ”Sojourner” we get one of these archetypical post-rock songs with a very long build up and a huge climax. This should not be seen as something negative, as it is incredibly well-executed. It’s one of those songs, that you want to play as loud as you can through your stereo and just enjoy the emotions it carries, as it travels through time and space and seeks out an uninhabited planet, searching for signs of life. While it is loud and layered with guitars, it still sounds very transparent and you can make out every detail.

At first ”Cardinal Winds” lures you in with a calm and beautiful part, before it hits you with all its heaviness. This ebbing of the tide is really the signature sound of this song. It’s a real storm right in the middle of the album. The build up after the second third keeps you on the edge of your seat, waiting for what comes next and of course Ranges deliver a true climactic whirlwind for this titanic title track.

We spend the last 15 minutes of Cardinal Winds with ”Solace” and ”Deluge”, the first two singles to be released of the album. The soft and calm ”Solace” really does justice to its name, at least until the middle of the song. Then the mood switches to rage and despair. The drums hit harder, the guitars get louder and suddenly the sound really thickens up. After this eruption, the song goes back to being calm and moody, but leaves behind a lingering feeling, that not everything is ok.

After the last sounds of ”South” have faded, we are dragged under the sea by the sounds of ”Deluge”. The music has this kind of oceanic vibe to it, that really fits its name. One might think that this song will be the heaviest of the album, it definitely is not. It gets a bit rougher towards the end, but never as dark as you might expect. What it does however, is leave the listener with a feeling that this is not over yet and there might be more to come.

While there might be more to come down the line, as said earlier, you never know with Ranges, ”Deluge” marks the end of this album for now. It is a pretty great album, with the only downside being, that it’s only five “real” songs long. Once again Ranges have delivered something spectacular and we can only hope for more to come in the future.