ALBUM REVIEW: Glasgow Coma Scale – Enter Oblivion
The post-rock genre has gained popularity slowly but steadily over 20 years, being the main form of expression for experimental rock in the ‘90s and still receiving great albums reviews in the 2000s. Nevertheless, the shadow of likeness and similitude across bands and sound limited the audience to a certain category mostly loyal to the cerebral craftsmanship put into sculpturing landscapes where futurism and postmodernism are synonym with melancholy and spacey moods, in contrast with the visceral power of classic rock. Bands acquired their own sound, and the question of whether their new albums are not just variations of their previous work started to appear. In the end, how many singular themes can be put alone into songs and build up dramatically … But just when you might think that post-rock has nothing left to offer, surprises will come your way. Like the Polish band Spoiwo and their album Salute Solitude, which was not just one of the best post-rock releases of 2015 but it is also built around a concept that matches perfectly the musical style. And again recently, the album Enter Oblivion by Glasgow Coma Scale proves that post-rock can move forward without necessarily being predictable.
Glasgow Coma Scale formed in 2011 and consists of the two Kowalski brothers, Piotr on guitars, soundscapes and programming and Marek on bass, and the drummer Helmes Bode. The trio is based in Frankfurt, Germany. Enter Oblivion is preceded by a self-release EP Apophenia in 2014. Among their live performances, they also opened for Tides From Nebula on their European Tour in 2012.
Enter Oblivion is an excellent journey from beginning till end. It delivers everything you ever wanted to hear in a post-rock album without the slightest feeling that you’ve heard it all before. The opening track ‘Sonda’ sets the controls of the heart of a space in which it’s simply impossible to stop until you reach destination. But what really draws into it it’s the uniqueness of each song. The album has its own solid overall sound but each song makes a distinct beautiful part, each of them drew around the same keywords: harmony, coherence and outstanding composition. In a different musical paradigm, all of them would have made excellent candidates to being released as singles. Imagine that for a post-rock album…
Another particularity that applies to each song is that the classical approach of taking a theme and developing it in crescendo pales in comparison with the Glasgow Coma Scale’s ways of using riffs in repetition and various other effects. The buildup is so subtle and shaped in many different ways. The use of space-rock and psychedelic elements as on ‘Northern Wastes’ or ‘Venice Calling’ doesn’t end up with a wall of sound but with a wall of melody. The longest track ‘Silent Bird’ reinvents the concept of enjoying every second of a lengthy song.
The Kowalski brothers have a background as trained classical musicians and obviously their virtuosity and knowledge pays off. Glasgow Coma Scale’s music is complex but never ostentatious. With ‘Ghost Not Found’, you may think My Sleeping Karma, but drop that thought quickly as it’s much more refined and complex, with layers being woven just like in a symphony where the instruments combine in a common effort of delivering different movements to find ultimate harmony. Of the entire album, ‘Birthland’ is the most post-rock song in the classical definition, using mainly the guitars to create an atmospheric droning texture but of a distinctive rhythm. It is also the first song they have ever written, while the opener ‘Sonda’ being the band’s latest creation. But no matter the sequence, the album never runs out of ideas. It’s not abrasively explosive but it holds irresistible force. It’s expressive, attractive and uplifting beyond doubt. It’s positive and warm. It’s that good.
- Piotr Kowalski – Guitars/Soundscapes/Programming
- Marek Kowalski – Bass
- Helmes Bode – Drums
The album is available on Digital format, CD and Vinyl in orange or black.
- Released: 12 December 2016 via Fluttery Records
- Produced by Thies Neu & glasgow coma scale.
- Recorded by Thies Neu at Tonbrauerei, Berlin. May 2016.
- Additional Electronics by Mr.S
- Artwork: Oli Hummel / Hummel Design
- Webdesign: Valentin Dieckmann / digitize me
- Font: Frank Hemmekam & Svetoslav Simov / Fontfabric
GLASGOW COMA SCALE – Enter Oblivion (full album)