By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
While Army of Elephants, Descender's 2010 debut, was no emotionally shallow affair, it would seem that sophomore release Dark Water finds the band leaving their past behind as a mere memory.
Personnel-wise, the only remnants here of past projects Doosu and The Burden Brothers seem to be the band's well-seasoned rock acumen and suddenly hyper-focused songwriting. While Army of Elephants was interesting to an extent, it lacked Dark Water's streamlined direction. Indeed, the new disc, while brief in length, shows off a significant rebirth for the still-new outfit; clocking in at only 30 minutes and eight tracks, the album wastes no time in making its point heard.
"Vial I" and "Vial II" serve as bookends to the title track, each offering roughly two minutes of foreboding, dirge-y instrumental murk that lead to what is clearly a very special piece of work to the band—one that paints quite a textured atmosphere for frontman Casey Hess's gift of dark storytelling. As a whole, the album is full of flabby drum-slaps that thud your chest, and moody, thick guitar tones that twist and writhe.
The album very much feels like a new beginning. And, considering the interesting piece of work as it is, it's one heck of a start.