Reviewed by: James
Hailing from about 150km south of Moscow from a town called Lukhovitsy, Powder! Go Away have returned to the scene with their latest release ‘Closer to Cold’ which saw release back in February. ‘Closer to Cold’ is the follow up to 2012’s ’We Don’t Know When It Has Begun, But We Know That It Will Never End’ and is an 8-track, 48 minute effort that takes a stark departure to a much more serious tone than their previous body of work. Gone are the hints of cheery third-wave, replaced by focused ambiance intertwined with a more mature sound that has been glossed over with a firm layer of seriousness.
“Cold Hands” and “Running” do a solid job to open the album, setting the mood and preparing the listener for tracks 3-5, which is where the album truly picks up a head of steam. “In Your Childhood Dream” is a beautiful ten minute long epic that is beautifully composed and is highlighted with a brilliant light guitar medley around the six minute mark. “Requiem” features breakneck tremelo picking with a relentless beat that cranks up the decibel levels a few notches while “Chapaevka Loneliness” begins in ambientness before pushing the boundaries into post-metal territory with an ultra-heavy finish. Synths and what I believe to be an electronic organ lead off the album’s closer “The Snow in the Subway” slowly evolves into a downtrodden bass-centric number that sees a crescendo guitar rise from the ashes of the mix and leads the track back into the synthy abyss in which it came.
Maybe I’m being a little harsh here, but certain elements of this album feel incredibly forced. Take the repetitive cymbal crashing for instance. I normally have no issues with this method of adding to a wall of sound, but in this album the crashing is far too noticeable. Another glaring problem I find is that crescendos are extremely predictable in numerous songs and the whole effort just comes across as far less organic than their previous two releases. I’m not saying the album isn’t good, because it is. I’m just saying that I feel strongly as if all the effort Powder! Go Away put forth towards a more focused sound came at the expense of the personality shown in their previous albums. Case in point I don’t think it’s a very good trade off when creating music in a genre that is oversaturated with these sort of middle of the road, above average but not really stand out or memorable bands and albums.
I don’t like ending my reviews with my criticisms, so let me tell you what the album does right. The use of keyboard on this album is a lot like a little dash of pepper on a properly cooked steak. Used sparingly it is easily distinguishable and enhances all of the other elements around it. While the build ups and breakdowns were really hit or miss, the band really hit it out of the park with the softer material on this record. The band has always had a strong penchant for their ambient work and build ups and that remains a bright point of this album. Instrument separation is superb and the spectrum of tones found throughout is phenomenal, making this a very technically pleasing album from a production standpoint. I recommend you give this album and listen and decide for yourself, but I just can’t give it my full recommendation, as I much prefer their previous two albums over ‘Closer to Cold’.