My immediate reaction to Minsk’s signing to Philadelphia’s Relapse Records was a resounding “Duh.” From their 2005 debut, Out Of A Center Which Is Neither Dead Nor Alive, released on At A Loss Recordings, it was plain to see that was where they’d end up. The timing just had to be right.
Now following up Out Of A Center with the relatively more compactly titled The Ritual Fires Of Abandonment, the Chicago four-piece further explores the depths of their own spirituality, gaining lyrical inspiration from Lebanese-born poet Kahlil Gibran along the way. Yes, they’re a band, and yes, they read. The two need not be mutually exclusive.
Musically, it’s not really anything Neurosis weren’t doing a decade ago, but such judgments are hardly fair (if everything was judged on the Neuroscale, we’d all be at least 10 years behind), and what separates Minsk from their hordes of post-metal contemporaries in bands like Mouth Of The Architect and Rosetta is the presentation and the subtlety of the psychedelics, drones and ambience.
Produced by bassist/vocalist/noisemaker Sanford Parker (ex-Buried At Sea and with production credits on albums by Pelican, 7000 Dying Rats, Unearthly Trance, Lair Of The Minotaur and others), the album is carefully constructed and completely natural sounding, with the mix in 13-plus minute opener “Embers”—nice twist, putting the epic first—setting the tone for the album with tribal beats, far away vocals, and guitars that sound more like buildings imploding than anything with six strings.
The way the American metal scene is moving, think of this genre as the alternative to pop-metal bands like Killswitch Engage and Shadows Fall. Minsk, having delivered big time with their sophomore outing and shown palpable growth since their debut, should have no problem moving up to the upper echelon of the heavy underground, given proper touring.