Northless play a gargantuan, rhythmically confounding kind of sludge that is as enveloping as it is punishing and difficult. Their last full length, Clandestine Abuse was unbelievably heavy, but it didn't let you in easily, and for exactly that reason it was completely addictive. Their releases since then (a split with Lightbearer and the Valley of Lead 10") hinted at the band's evolution, but on their new record, World Keeps Sinking (Halo of Flies/Gilead Media), Northless have launched themselves on to a new plane altogether.
Everything that gave Northless their edge previously is still here,
including the characteristic choked, mucous vocals and the teeth
clenching, skull fracturing, hard won riffs. But there is a load of
additional complexity and control, with a bit of quirk thrown into the mix.
This is the kind of record that needs repeated listens just to make sense of what the hell is going on. The songs are amazingly constructed and completely unpredictable. Titanic, destructive riffs unfold one after another, stuck tightly together by an absolute wrecking-ball of a rhythm section that morphs time and direction so effectively you don't even notice you've been transported to the next beating. Northless have nailed down the ability to forcibly drag their music along an
erratic path of fury, misery, frustration, hatred, determination, false hope and...what's this? Dreamlike calm?
When the violence of "Communion" crumbles away to expose a gentle, breezy, clean, almost jazzy guitar finish, it allows the dust to begin to settle, and the full impact of everything Northless have done on this album sinks in. "Passage" picks up from there, providing a 15+ minute lesson in how to melt minds and faces at the same time. Possibly the album's standout track (at least that's my early impression), it exemplifies the whole approach Northless are taking to combining claustrophobic, suffocating heaviness with expansive, preconception-shattering songwriting.
World Keeps Sinking somehow manages to latch on to misanthropy and bathe it in a reflective, almost warm light. It's a fucking fantastic album, and I can't recommend it highly enough.