Minsk- The Crash And The Draw

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Friday, May 29, 2015

After a six year absence, sludge/doom band Minsk has returned with a brand new record entitled The Crash And The Draw and three new members. While I’m familiar with the name and had come across some of their previous albums, I hadn’t had the opportunity to fully explore much of their discography in depth and so this new lineup proved to be my first real chance to see what they had to offer. At an hour and a fifteen minutes in length, it’s one of those efforts that has taken a good deal of time with to fully take everything in, but after spending a few days with Minsk I found myself fully in tune with their weightier sludge/doom and soaring atmospheric build-ups that are able to reach better climaxes than most in the genre.

It may take a little while to fully absorb everything on The Crash And The Draw, but that’s not to say that the album is lacking in immediacy. This is evident on the opening piece “To The Initiate” where the instrumentals hint at both of the directions the band offers throughout the rest of the album. The song starts off with a softer, dreamlike melody that builds slowly for the first few minutes before launching into some much heavier, lumbering riffs. Minsk continues transitioning between the mellow and harsh elements over the course of this single track, and they’re able to do so in a way that feels more natural and fluid than is sometimes typical for this genre. “To The Initiate” is the longest piece on the entire album, but it accomplishes a lot in that period of time and does a great job of representing every stylistic element the instrumentalists are capable of creating. From that point on the material branches off and explores these different styles in depth, and that’s what makes The Crash And The Draw such an interesting release to dive right into. One song might move completely over to the metal spectrum and concentrate on absolutely crushing riffs that hit the listener with a real sense of weight and energy, while another mellows out so much that the overall atmosphere created to that is close to that of introspective post rock. It’s a lot to take in and likely different nuances will reveal themselves with each listen, but this is an album that is worth experiencing as a whole because each piece has been written in a way that makes them flow together and create a single narrative. My favorite song after repeated listens would have to be “The Way Is Through,” which spends its first half softly layering melodies together in a truly entrancing way before moving towards a rawer climax that ups the distortion but still maintains a somber feel throughout.

One of the reasons that The Crash And The Draw feels so fleshed out is because the vocals are able to expand upon the amount of tension and haunting atmospherics provided by the instrumentals. Minsk makes use of both lower pitched growls that tower over the songs and expand with immense power and much softer singing that add to the mellower end of the spectrum. There’s a lot more variation to the performance than I was expecting, but this makes sense considering that almost every member of the band contributes some type of growl/scream/cleaner range over the course of the album. It’s become fairly common in sludge and post metal for groups to have a vocalist that simply delivers a guttural growl in a static way that eventually becomes repetitive, so I’m always drawn in by acts like Minsk that are able to truly branch out and hit both ends of the spectrum. Listeners will find that there’s a considerable amount of emotion behind each and every word, and it makes the material feel truly genuine.

My first in-depth experience with Minsk has been very positive, as their interpretation of the sludge/doom sound is able to touch upon crushing intensity and a softer reflective atmosphere that immediately sucks you in and entices you to dive beneath the surface to explore the nuances. The Crash And The Draw may seem like a lot to take in, and admittedly it will likely require quite a bit of listening time to fully take in, but those who do so will find that this remains engaging from beginning to end and hits peaks that few bands can reach. While so many are focused on only exploring the darkest, most abrasive sounds out there Minsk captures moments of beauty and light in between their bursts of anger and darkness which definitely helps them to stand out. I expect this to be an album I return to throughout the rest of the year, and it looks like there is yet another back catalog of material I need to go back and explore.

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