Sunday, January 29, 2017

Pijn - Floodlit

By Justin C. Pijn (the Dutch word for “pain,” pronounced "pine") is a UK group that's been tagged as "post-metal," even though I've found that to be one of the less-meaningful genre labels going around right now. That said, the closest comparison I might make is to Russian Circles
By Justin C.


Pijn (the Dutch word for “pain,” pronounced "pine") is a UK group that's been tagged as "post-metal," even though I've found that to be one of the less-meaningful genre labels going around right now. That said, the closest comparison I might make is to Russian Circles, another band that's tagged post-metal. The care in melodic lines and songcraft are what's put the Russian Circles comparison in my head--I wouldn't call them soundalikes by any means, especially since Pijn includes some minimal vocals, but I find that Pijn tickles the same parts of my brain that Russian Circles does.

A blurry press photo suggests nine collaborators on their four-track EP, Floodlit, although I've read other sources that say they're basically a trio with seven additional musicians, including but not limited to a violinist, cellist, and sax player. Regardless of exact numbers, they've created something both delicate and heavy at the same time, yet mesmerizing over all.

The band has done something a little unusual, structurally, with Floodlit. The "anchor" songs, "Dumbstruck and Floodlit" and "Lacquer," begin and end the EP, and sandwiched between are two much shorter interludes, although it's a bit unfair to call them that since "interlude" suggests something a bit more ephemeral than what these two short tracks add.

"Dumbstruck and Floodlit" comes in quietly, with some strings and a ringing guitar line. As the song starts to coalesce, you might be fooled into thinking this is a shoegaze throwback, although a very good one. But it's not long before the main riff dives in with a wailing, siren-like guitar line behind it, eventually augmented with some pretty interesting harmonic textures. The song weaves a bit more, but if you need to know the time, it's right around 5:20 when the "real" metal kicks in, with bellowed, sludgy vocals and slashing riffs. There are so many interesting parts to describe, it's hard to tell where to begin and end, but do stick around for some Jørgen Munkeby-style saxophone freakouts toward the end.

And that's just the first track. "Hazel" follows from the opener to a piano line and guitar dancing around each other. For some reason, it puts me in the mind of a seaside carnival. "Cassandra" offers a bit of dissonance and distortion before giving way to another blast of sludgy vocals in the closer, "Lacquer." I could go on about the jagged riffs, rumbling drums, sparse guitar parts, and the like, but suffice it to say that "Lacquer" matches the EP's opener in complexity.

Is this really metal, you might want to ask? Well, that's a tough question. The music is catchy, but it's demanding of the listener at the same time, and those bellowed vocals means you're not going to hear this too much in the mainstream. Maybe "post-metal" really is the best way to describe it, but either way, this is a beautiful bit of music that you should get your paws on, even if you usually prefer straight pummeling.

Tagged with 2017, Holy Roar Records, Justin C, Pijn, post-metal
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