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Del Rey - "Immemorial" (CD)

Del Rey - "Immemorial" CD cover image

"Immemorial" track listing:

1. Return Of The Son Of Fog Rider (11:15)
2. E Pluribus Unicorn (7:49)
3. Innumeracy (2:31)
4. Silent Weapons For Quiet Wars (10:35)
5. Ouisch (1:13)
6. These Children That Come At You With Knives (9:39)
7. Ancestral (2:25)

Reviewed by on October 25, 2010

"This is a thinking man’s kind of music, an album to ponder and study over like a brain-twisting calculus equation."

While there isn’t exactly a Justin Timberlake-size following to instrumental music, Chicago’s Del Rey has still been overlooked over the years in favor of bands like Scale The Summit and Animal As Leaders. Their fourth album, “Immemorial,” continues in the epic grandeur of 2006’s “A Pyramid for the Living” with four main suites and three interludes. The musicianship is stellar, focusing less on technical prowess and more on atmospheric mystique. This is a thinking man’s kind of music, an album to ponder and study over like a brain-twisting calculus equation.

For some, that will be a task too great to bear. There is a lot to sponge up on the first listen, and to the band’s credit, they keep the songs flowing with little disruption. The album has its heavy breakdowns, but for the most part, it is a smooth trip the whole way through. The explosive moments are saved for specific points, usually the result of stretched build-ups that go on for minutes. “E Pluribus Unicorn” does this with ease, as the last minute is a sheet of noise that is jarring to the ears. Instead of trying to outdo themselves, Del Rey takes a few minutes to calm things down with the interlude “Innumeracy.”

This type of give and take is what makes “Immemorial” so compelling. There is never a moment where the album buckles under its own ambition. The longer tracks head into 10-minute territory, yet it never feels like the band is forcing the lengths. It all comes across organically, as natural steps taken in succession. The band seems to love layering the instruments, with Easter eggs thrown into each song to give them replay value. The soft piano work halfway through the low-key “Return Of The Son Of Fog Rider” is just one example of the subtleties buried in the music.

Two drummers are employed on various parts on the album, sometimes playing simultaneously to add a little power to a certain beat, and other times doing their own thing to send out a hypnotic effect. It’s mesmerizing to hear separate drum patters going off at the same time, most prevalent on “Silent Weapons For Quiet Wars.” The rest of the band is far from slouches, each one playing an important role. That’s really what a top-notch instrumental band should do; let the members feed off each other to creatively form a singular idea.

A piece of music like “Immemorial” is hard to describe in a written format. Post-rock, artsy prog; none of these labels mean anything. Just know that this is instrumental music of the highest order and one that needs a listener’s undivided attention. The album is best as a whole piece, as the interludes don’t stand out as individual tracks, but hold things together in the grander scheme of things. This will either click with people or cause a lot of head-scratching at its supposed value; a sign of a record that is worth the time and effort it takes to comprehend its lofty premise.

Highs: Two drummers, explosive moments after minutes of calmness, the long songs flow organically

Lows: Very hard to get into at first, interludes aren't anything special

Bottom line: A smart and tautly album that is atmospheric instrumental music at its finest.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)