Siberian Escape: 'Tunguska'
(Fuzz Colective, 2015)
Even if it's still a mainly underground phenomenon, Spain's post-hardcore scene is thriving, and it aims to expand the basic sounds of the genre, keep them alive and open them to a new world.
Siberian Escape, hailing from Majorca, play an important role within such scene, with their experimental and highly professional approach to the genre. It's impressive to hear how the common sounds of bands like Thursday, Alexisonfire or Million Dead become a mine deep enough to extract some sonic gold that greatly diverges from its alchemical ancestors.
In many ways, the amazingly polished hardcore that these bands played was nothing but a certain kind of psychedelia, one which was based not on visions but in the artists' elaboration of the most complex emotions. The band, which made up of Miguel (voice and guitars), Lluís (bass guitar) and Domingo (drums) understands very well both the confines and the possibilities laid by the parents of millennial post-hardcore.
Every song is a different world, despite the presence of some common sonic traits
The band manages to pack the brief twenty minutes of this EP, named for the cold Russian region where the most important modern meteorite impact took place, with every element that gives the genre a semantic universe of its own, but... Do they manage to express such elements with a voice of their own? We are not going to answer right away. Suffice to say that the fact of having selected the Spanish language over the English in which they sang their previous works is a clear sign of their will to do it. On a musical level, each song is a very different world, despite the presence of some common traits that each musician brings to the compositions.
'Gulag' gets us into a world of polished but heavy production, one of the band's signs of identity. When we compare Siberian Escape with other bands in the genre, they have a tendency to put some strong riffs in the forefront, but the dialectics between heavy and delicate passages are kept, turning the different songs into colourful explosions of cold feelings, despite its short length. Carefully used tingling sounds of sharp guitars help to assemble such delicate passages, and to infuse them with a sense of unease that permeates the whole EP.
In 'Si Caigo' the band showcases another of their great virtues: the composition of cold but eloquent instrumental introductions that manage to be as cold as expressive, revealing their taste for progressive and narrative song strucutres. In a way, we could judge their ability to combine deeply emotional lyrics (that bring to mind still pictures or hellenistic statues) with the fast moving character of the instrumental sections. Their post hardcore is not only a mere psychological exploration of the "individual that feels", but also a careful analysis of its perceptions and the almost imperceptible movements of its psyche.
The materials they work with are coldness, loneliness and occasional explosions of speed
One might perhaps object that with the short length of their compositions, their aesthetical position is a bit too ambitious, but with this limitation in mind, we find their attempt not only fair but even more striking. In this very song, one is surprised by the delicate harmony between Miguel's raspy voice and the instrumental base, that assemble a delicate dialogue in which none of the two parts prevails.
The aggression that ends this song is diluted in 'Anoikis', a song built around riffs that convey mechanical feelings that are cut through by guitars that are both as black as jet and as cold as the plains, an appropriate sound for a song that revolves around absences, lacks and the almost comforting presence of the Big Nothing. The band puts post-metal and post-hardcore sounds virtues to good use, evoking such absences, such nothingness, with the apparent horror vacui of a sound filled with jagged angles and windy corridors of ice. In the end, human beings can only evoke nothingness with art and artifice or stay quite in a stillness that will soon be overwhelmed with presences.
'Sed' gives such nothingness content, drawing the heat of an individual that travels across great desolate extensions, occasionally traversed by something that might be the danger of some stray bullet from a fight strange and alien or that other projectile that drives a hole through our thoughts, that abstract "thirst" that lends its Spanish name to this song. In the best passages of this composition, they manage to not only to work with the melancholy of solitude but also with the forces that bind the body, forces that are many a time forgotten by emotional hardcore musicians in search for bodyless purity. However, and as the lyrics for the last song state, "winter comes without a warning", as the eternal and circular death, as a forcible interruption of desire.
'Uróboros' revolves around the themes of decadence and return, and rounds the album with the broad instrumental world that distinguishes the neoclassicism of post-rock.
Siberian Escape, as we may deduce from the first time we hear their very name, work with coldness, loneliness and occasional explosions of speed as their main tools. Their labour is that of 'evoking', something that links them both with the proponents of a post-hardcore aesthetic and with the most experimental, atmospheric, metal bands around.
And that, perhaps, is the main problem for this band: their kinships are too easy to trace. With their first EPs, we saw them create their own ecological niche in the terrible plains of easternmost Russia, but their reliance on generic resources is still deep. However, Tunguska gets better and deeper with every listen, and the instrumental skill of every member is evident, so we might conclude that their first LP is going to cause a quake in the world of Spanish prog or, at least, a very big shiver: in this EP we hear everything they need to succeed.
Text: Dimas F. Otero
There's more in http://siberianescape.bandcamp.com/