It’s takes more than people think for a band to separate itself from being good to being great. Good bands do everything you expect them to do, when you expect them to do it, but just happen to be good at executing that style. Mind you, they aren’t typically spectacular, hence why they are just “good”, but they get the job done, and done well. So logically I tend to think that others see great as just “good but better”. I wholeheartedly disagree with that. Great does not just mean better than good. Maybe in terms of it’s literal english meaning it does, but in my music reviewing spidy sense it means something more. Great bands and great albums go the extra mile. The actual difference between a 7 and an 8 is really not just execution, but it’s the band going above and beyond to add something to their music that makes them different. That separates them from the crowd. That one possibly tiny thing that gives them the edge that ends up making all the difference. I’m creatively inclined, so typically that means thinking outside the box, but it really could be a matter of just doing what other bands do, but adding a unique twist on the aesthetic. Now, obviously this does not mean that different = automatically good, far from it. Being unique is only a positive if you know how to wear it. Otherwise it’s typically a massive subtraction from your score. I love it when a band does something odd, but hate it more than anything when they odd thing turns out to make album sound like the cries of an old man peeing out a kidney stone.
Fortunately, we’re talking about post-metal here, which, as long as it’s not combined with black metal, is one of the safest, least derivative, and often most boring sub genres in metal right now. I’ve heard plenty of bands that don’t sound like shit, but rarely do I find one that hits it out of the park. Case in point, I have never given an album I tagged as post-metal an 8 or higher. Granted, I only have 9 such albums tagged that way on this site, and I’ve given plenty of 7s, but again, it’s that extra that matters. Post-metal is just too safe of a genre in my mind for bands to really give me what I want to hear. Bossk however, manages to exceed my expectations and finally give me that edge to give a post-metal album over an 8/10, delivering 2 tracks of music that combine everything I love about heavy, rhythmic atmo sludge with enough of the calmer post-rock elements. They use these elements in a way that, to even my own surprise, I don’t find obnoxious, and can safely say without a doubt in my mind, they are at the least 9/10 worthy, and maybe even part of the best post-metal album I’ve ever reviewed.
Here’s the issue; Audio Noir is not 2 tracks long. It is not even double that length. It actually consists of no less than 7 tracks, of which the other 5 regrettably come nowhere near the quality of the 2 juicy coconuts I talked about previous. It doesn’t help that the two tracks I’m referring to (Kobe and Atom Smasher) are directly in the middle of the album, surrounded on both sides by filler tracks, one of which is actually a full 40 seconds longer than the godly track it precedes.
Starting from the beginning, there are already issues. It’s obvious that this band is in love with the pitchfork approved, 3rd wave post-rock zeitgeist that’s sweeping the music world right now. The intro track, The Reverie, is as bland as you can get without being boring, although “not boring” is not a compliment I would ever want to strive for. Plenty of things are not boring that I wouldn’t voluntarily want to experience. Getting chased by a grizzly bear is not boring. Being foreclosed upon is not boring. Hiding the fact that you have 3gb of Street Fighter futanari porn as a teen whilst having a very nosy family is not boring. The point is not boring is not always good, although here I mean not boring in the “I don’t quite want to fall asleep” way, rather than concocting any sort of crisis. It’s exactly what you would expect out of post-metal, with it’s too cool for you positive chords, and undeservedly pretentious atmospheric guitar effects. Heliopause follows up this not quite snoozefest with a track that says “hey guys, we can be heavy too, please believe us, we’re a metal band, honest”. I admit, it actually one of the better tracks on the album. I really do think when this band gets heavier and sludgier, they sound so much more genuine and believable, like a band that you actually want to listen to. They aren’t too shabby at creating bangin’ atmo sludge riffs either.
The problem is when you have tracks like Relancer, which is the third longest track on the record, is basically just atmospheric guitar masturbation. It’s like that one kid in 3rd grade who learned what antidisestablishmentarianism meant, and then would not shut the fuck up about it and kept pretending he was smart, until he became the one kid the school bully beat up that you could feel good about. We get it, you know how to make pretty noises with the guitar. That’s cool, so can I if I just get an amp and fuck around with it enough. It won’t sound good, but it’ll be more interesting than whatever the fuck Bossk could think up when it’s head is up it’s ass (so in this case, the whole not boring thing is probably good). It’s really a shame, because I mean it when I say that when this band doesn’t vigorously stroke their guitar’s micro penis, they make great music.
Case in point, the next two tracks, Kobe and Atom Smasher. Both are the heaviest tracks on the album, although Atom Smasher does some of the wank in a way I feel is appropriate and not just stupid. Atom Smasher in particular has some fucking KILLER riffs, and is legitimately the best song of a post-metal album I have ever reviewed. Fuck how does anyone get through 2-3 min without getting amped up? I love how rhythmic it all is, how much it drives it’s point home. Bossk has rhythmic riffs down pat when they actually feel like being a decent band. Even beyond then, the transition is of that loud, burst of noise at the end of Kobe into the thumping bass line at the beginning of Atom Smasher is just, unf wow. Why can’t all music by like that? Basically, these two pieces of shit are 9/10+ tracks that make me want to cry that nothing else on the album releases it’s cranium from the depths of it’s diarrhetic colon.
I had high hopes, but Nadir is a complete filler track, and the finale, The Reverie Part II, is certainly not bad, good even, but it’s good in a 6/10 way, not good in an actually great music way. Rev Part II is follows the footsteps it’s intro counterpoint, but it’s twice as long. That’s really it, they’re similarly titled for a good reason, and that reason is they’re twins, but one of them weighs around 100lbs more, is 10 years older, and just that much more of a disappointment to their family. Disappointing is an absurdly simple way to put how I feel about the final track, but that’s what I’m sticking to, because this review is already over 1200 words long, and people only have so much of an attention span, so let’s leave it at that.
However, as much as it pains me to, I’m going to give this a 7/10. I hate a lot of what this stands for, and I can’t really safely say I loved what I heard. But if I’m going to be even close to objective (which to be fair, I pretty much don’t even try to be most of the time), this album never falls below a high 5 at any point, and when it is good, it’s ridiculously good. It’s not inventive, it’s not unique, and rarely does Audio Noir ever take the extra step to greatness. But if I’m going to be perfectly honest, if someone asked me for a post-metal recommendation, I know I could rec this to someone and have a very good chance they’d like it more than I did.