When Minsk appeared on my radar, back in 2005 with Out of a center which is neither dead nor alive, they did not feel like another drop on the ocean of postcore band. The genre was not as overloaded as it has been for, at least, three years now and their take on it, even if quite derivative of Neurosis, felt still fresh and artistically relevant.
Fast forward to 2015 and even Neurosis does not offer much to the postcore crowd, Isis is gone and Cult of Luna has become the most consistent band that came through the second wave of this genre. Therefore, to say that I expected little of Minsk and their new album was an understatement, especially considering that it is an hour and fifteen minutes long!
It speaks volume then that despite all of this I can safely say that there is much to find on this new album and that the doubters should give it a try before burying the genre underneath a hundred unsold albums from General Lee. Much like Rosetta, Minsk have found their identity after starting as a tribute to their heroes. Sanford Parker has now collaborated with much of the bands he probably revered by taking part in Corrections House (with members of Neurosis, EyeHateGod and Yakuza) and Twilight with the cream of the crop of the USBM (Xasthur, Leviathan, Krieg and Nachtmystium) and although it is hard to pin-point what all this project has brought to Minsk, he is very able to write a mean sludgy and epic song of which there are eleven on the sixth album with a band he joined after helping them record Out of a center….
On opener To the initiate you will find some familiar tricks like the multiple rolls characteristic of Cult of Luna’s drummer but also haunting vocals done better than Aaron Turner (Isis) and also growls à la Scott Kelly (Neurosis) followed by an epic black metal part. If it all looks like a mix of every cliché, it still sounds very competent and beautifully executed. Minsk still sounds like the bastard son of Neurosis but also like the once young musicians they once were. Neurosis has now moved away from their past, as they should, but with a band like Minsk you have the chance to hear more songs that stays true to the old style that was once called « cinematic sludge » by the journalist Joel McIver in his book Extreme metal.
Although quite predictable in terms of its influences,The crash and the draw is a very competent album that occasionally brings you to the top of the mountain and makes you feel like a viking contemplating his country like during the middle break of When the walls fell or the long scream that concludes Within and without. The album also flows very well and the production is completely appropriate for this type of music. Basically, it is postcore like daddy used to make it. It may not sound like much, and it’s now a bit rétro, but there is no reason to deny good things when they are as well written and recorded as on this.