Daxma - Unmarked Boxes

17 Nov 2021 - Thorsten

Post-Metal, Post-Rock | Blues Funeral Recordings | Release date: 19 Nov 2021

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”To be boxed in” is the idea of being incarcerated, to have no free will, not being able to follow and fulfill your own dreams and desires. Or that one is stuck inside a certain box, whether one wants to be there or no. Many Post-Metal bands are stuck inside in a genre which is wide open and hellishly close at the same time. Oakland’s Daxma have just released a record which basically is their way out of that box; even though it’s named Unmarked Boxes.

The Bay Area surely has been a good place for Post-Metal over the last couple of decades – Neurosis as the godfathers, Kowloon Walled City as the torch bearers and now Daxma as the new front runners who definitely develop their own unique sound, but nevertheless also keeping some of the trademarks of the bands before them: Neurosis’ feeling for unusual structures or Kowloon’s idea of rather raspy guitar parts, the string sections SubRosa was famous for or the elegant rises that newcomers A Burial At Sea have brought to the “box”. Adding their own element to the amalgam, Daxma give some of their songs a tinge of a dark industrial sound and show a knowledge of the genre and its traditions that is thorough and well-versed.

The quartet have a very majestic approach to the usual quiet-vs-loud dynamic, opting for the long, slow slope rather than the rocketing eruptions. The elegance surely has to do with Jessica’s violin and the mesmerizing passages and sounds she develops that sometimes resemble a trumpet or a synth-passage. Adding the highly ethereal team-vocals by Jessica, who also plays the piano, and Isaac, usually playing guitar and bass, the songs reach a completely different level than most Post-Metal bands due to the often ambient nature of various layers of sound.

The six tracks with roughly an hour of music display a really remarkable structure and seem to perfectly balance sound and songwriting. When the opening track ”The Clouds Parted” starts with its simple piano and guitar structure and that little bit of ambient passage underneath it, nothing we have not heard a thousand times and yet the tuning, the simplicity and efficiency of it is remarkable. The band is really one of its kind, when it comes to not filling every second of every song with sound, a feat which should be largely attributed to the rhythm section which is able to let go of their control of the song.

It is also mighty interesting that the band wrote four long tracks (of lengths between 9:43 and 13:29 minutes) and two “short” interludes (each approximately 280 seconds long) so that also sees a kind of drama-theory structure, somewhat close to Aristotle’s idea of the ideal structure of a play with rising and falling action in between the longer sequences. Mindblowing!

When listening to Daxma and Unmarked Boxes it is easy to fall in love with Bay Area Post-Metal again. The soundscapes and songwriting are both top of the line and the narrative element give each song a purpose in the larger scheme of the album. Another awesome Post-Metal record for the fall of 2021, just like A Lakes of Ayes, KITE or Hippotraktor. This one is more on the ethereal side of things and that just shows how different the box “Post-Metal” can be opened and cracked. It is easy to recognize that Daxma like to think “outside the box”, that they want to give the listener more than a regular 50 minute record with six to eight songs and your average blackened metal screams. The quartet wants to appeal to your heart and mind and, man, they convincingly achieve that. A must-listen for every fan of the genre!