Brothers of the Sonic Cloth- Brothers of the Sonic Cloth

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Saturday, February 7, 2015

Brothers of the Sonic Cloth is a new band that was founded by Tad Doyle back in 2007, initially started as a recording only solo project before expanding into a full lineup. If you’re familiar with Doyle’s previous work as the front man of Seattle grunge Tad you may come in expecting a specific type of sound, but Brothers of the Sonic Cloth’s debut self-titled full length explores very different territory. Stylistically falling somewhere between doom and sludge, this album offers both darker, desolate soundscapes and warmer tones that have a more introspective and melancholic feel. It’s the type of release that demands the listener spend an extended period of time exploring everything the material has to offer to get the most out of it, but those that choose to do so will find this to be an effort that stays with them for quite a while.

Doom and sludge may form the base of what the instrumental work is going for throughout the course of the album, but Brothers of the Sonic Cloth expands outward and touches upon a lot of different elements as the album progresses. The first track “Lava” is the shortest piece, and rather than starting off with a slow build-up like so many others in this genre the instrumentalists launch right into a heavier groove that immediately grabs your attention. But as soon as “Empires of Dust” begins it becomes clear that for every faster groove and more aggressive moment that Brothers of the Sonic Cloth has to offer, there are just as many that move along at a much slower pace and let the atmosphere build naturally. Listeners will find that when going through this one for the first time, there’s a similar construction to the flow of the songs which makes the album lack that immediate impact, but the more you listen to what this band has to offer the more nuances become apparent. What’s continued to bring me back to this material time and time again is the way that it gets under your skin with a combination of somber, desolate melodies and calmer ones that have a bit more of a hopeful, spiritual sound. The instrumental work is able to seamlessly move between the two, sometime starting off with softer melodies that suck you in with their drearier tone and airier feel before building to a lumbering, intense climax. My favorite piece continues to be “I Am”, as it is the perfect showcase for Brothers of the Sonic Cloth’s ability to balance that softer introspective side with bursts of energy and destruction. It does take a few spins to really get a feel for what each song has to bring to the table, and the similarity of the pacing between songs does make it require more times through to fully reveal the nuances, but when it clicks for listeners they’ll find themselves swept away by its depth and ready to keep exploring.

Tad Doyle’s vocal work is another highlight of Brother of the Sonic Cloth’s material, as he is able to perfectly match the tone of the instrumentals and provides a versatile range of pitches throughout the course of the album. The familiar gruffness from his prior material is still on display at certain points, but it is used for different effect here, coming off even heavier and aggressive than before. As with the instrumentals, the vocals alternate between louder, in your face moments that are more destructive in nature and deliver a blast of intensity to your eardrums and much softer singing that fits the somber, melancholic moments. You can really feel the emotion behind each word, and I often felt as though I was hearing a fairly different side of Tad compared to what I remember from before. But even if you’re not familiar with what he’s done before, the performance is sure to pull you in with its natural rises and fall of harsher screaming/growling and singing.

It may have taken a few years since Brothers of the Sonic Cloth formed to get this debut out, but it’s clear that the time has been spent to allow these songs to grow naturally and fully explore both the harsher and melancholic spectrums. What’s also interesting to note is that the CD version adds two extra songs, but both the LP and CD have natural stopping points. The vinyl ends with the powerful “I Am”, while the CD edition adds a soft piano outro that allows the material to fade out on a reflective, introspective note. Both feel like proper conclusions, making either edition worth experiencing for listeners willing to give this one the time it needs to reveal its nuances and sink its hooks in. Hopefully the next album won’t be so far off though, as I’m anxious to see how this group continues to grow and evolve as they work together.

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