Shelter Red - Strike A Mortal Terror
Record Label: Sound Vs. Silence
Release Date: 2009
Shelter Red is making music that is so much more than post-rock for the impatient. It might sound like Strike A Mortal Terror is aimed at all the people who wish that the scalp-skinning breakdown in Gifts From Enola's "Trieste" would have been written without six minutes of buildup, but that's an assumption far too naive. While the Portland, OR duo does indeed write heavy-hitting post-rock sans laborious airy developments, the songs on their latest album are more intricate than just being rock-out sessions for dummies. Instead it finds that balance between creativity and caveman aggression, producing one of the most simultaneously interesting and head bang-inducing releases of the year.
The first thing you notice when the title track/opener begins is that Strike A Mortal Terror is noisy. The production is what adds much of the brutality the disc has to the music - the tap-tap-tap-CLASH tap-tap-tap-CLASH of the drums, the dissonant crunch of the wailing guitar riffs; everything is at full volume and scathingly raw. But even more impressive are the songwriting and musicianship. In "This Is A Lost Ambition," a beautiful theme is catapulted through unconventional time signatures and wild episodes only to emerge still intact in the end. "Last Rites For The Dying" is a howling number that screeches and thrashes for six minutes before calming down and extinguishing itself. "The Moralist" holds its own with metal riffage, and "A Confusion of Tongues" manages to never get boring despite its repeating motif. And throughout all of this runs an awe-inspiring display of dexterity and talent from every instrument.
The album lacks the ability to hold its listeners' attention simply because of its sheer raucousness. But in an industry where "brutal" is commonly associated with drop D chugs and growls, that's not necessarily a bad thing. If nothing else, it proves that Shelter Red isn't afraid to push the stereotypes of heavy music, and that innovationbreeds success. In the end, that's all the analysis you want to ask for; the violence of Strike A Mortal Terror is enough to turn off your thoughts and sweep you away.