Rotterdam, Netherlands based sludge/doom metal trio Gavran is streaming their sophomore album, »Indistinct Beacon«, which was just released this Friday, December 2nd, 2022 via Dunk!records.
Courtesy of Dunk!records:
Back in March of 2020, this Dutch doom/sludge trio was set to emerge with their debut LP »Still Unavailing«, until the world was put on pause. The central idea for the album was “Mercilessly it moves forward. Its path laid with triumph, but also congested with doubt and loss as it goes, with one absolute certainty somewhere along the way: all things culminate.” Suddenly, the path and the culmination were stripped away, and all that remained were the doubt and loss clouding the mind – an experience that unfortunately spread across the globe rather than remaining contained in the sonic walls of »Still Unavailing«. On the other hand, the record’s themes did become even more relatable due to the state of the world, and in that context it became an even more vital piece of work. More than two years have passed, and those feelings that informed Gavran’s debut have only become heightened and expanded, and now everything that has weighed on the band and lyricist Jamie Kobi͐c during that time has been poured directly into their sophomore album »Indistinct Beacon«.
»Indistinct Beacon« inhabits a space somewhere between the crushing sludge tones of Amenra and the painstakingly forthright confessional nature of »The Inside Room«-era 40 Watt Sun. Kobic has described his approach to writing as an exploration of all the dark tunnels of the mind, which allows him to grapple with doubt, anger, and despair in a manner ultimately lending itself to unraveling tangled wires and witnessing the existence of light where it may have once seemed extinguished. Specific to »Indistinct Beacon«, he describes the themes as such: “Paralyzed by an always prowling suffering, embarking the waters, striving to reach the light seemingly far away and covered in the mists of ignorance. Practicing, gathering, unwinding…” While this is in one sense a deeply personal journey, in a modern context it occupies a far more relevant station, with a potential for catharsis that spreads even further than it may have otherwise.
Photo by Arjen Kunnen
Musically, the compositions keenly match the scope of the thematic elements. Each track sprawls to more than 9 minutes, allowing the proper space for Kobic’s lyrics to breathe and make their impact. The band deftly navigates a “less is more” approach while still maintaining propulsive pathways for the songs to evolve and move forward at an engaging rate. In opening track »Dvorac«, for instance, the guitar work leans into simpler progressions with a wide open feel to them, which in turn allows for Kobic to draw out his vocal delivery, hanging on individual words and sustaining them for maximum impact. Meanwhile, the drums provide a lively counterpoint that keeps the performance dynamic and gripping. For this song and the subsequent ones on »Indistinct Beacon«, the end result is an experience that allows the listener time to become fully enveloped while never crossing over into feeling overlong.
»Indistinct Beacon« is a record that was born out of feelings of anxiety, doubt, and distress, but it is also one born into a world where those sensitivities have become far more commonplace. It presents an interesting paradox in that regard, because as the music inhabits a fairly specific niche, its themes are ones that could be seen as widely purifying in 2022. We find these relevant themes to be compelling, but the truth is that we were initially pulled into this album because it hits with purpose on a sonic level. Ideas are always important in the music we seek out, but visceral impact is paramount. »Indistinct Beacon« brings substantial strength and weight to the table, giving its compositions an abundant, essential impact that forges a searing impression musically. No matter where listeners choose to follow the record’s themes from there, the vehicle driving them is on rock-solid ground.
Order »Indistinct Beacon« from Dunk!records here:
Recorded and mixed by Tim de Gieter (Amenra, Doodseskader) at Much Luv Studio, Lembeke, BE.
Mastered by Jack Shirley (Deafheaven, Oathbreaker) at The Atomic Garden, Oakland, California, USA.
Album art and layout by Arjen Kunnen (Duvelskoele Art).
Jamie Kobić – Drums/Vocals
Freek van Rooyen – Guitar
Ritsaart Vetter – Bass