Matriarch Invites Us on a “Descension” (Early Album Stream)
There’s something elemental about Matriarch’s new LP, Descension, streaming exclusively below. The record feels less like something written by a group of musicians than a body of sounds that have been harnessed from the depths, sounds as ancient and massive as Earth itself. Descension is the all-consuming silence of a deep-sea mountain range channeled through amplification and distortion. Listen now, as we're premiering the whole thing:
Matriarch is yet another staggeringly good band from Denver, coming from the same scene as In the Company of Serpents, Primitive Man, Khemmis, Glacial Tomb, and Blood Incantation. The first time I saw Matriarch live, I was stunned by how slowly the band played, and how tightly they did it. The group trudged along at a rate of 20 BPM, which, for reference, is about half the tempo range doom bands typically dwell in. When music is that slow, it throws off your equilibrium as the part of your brain that tracks rhythm tries and fails to adapt. Matriarch uses an arsenal of high-end amplifiers and cabinets, but the origins of the band’s heaviness are much more primeval. Mountains loom just to the west of Denver, so, when there, you can never ignore nature’s monolithic power. Matriarch is a vehicle for that energy.
On 2018’s Constructs of Time, Matriarch channeled that same spirit, but Descension opens the flow from a trickle to a flood. Consisting of four individual songs, the LP comes across as one continuous piece, similar to Dopesmoker in its ability to cause hypnosis. Compared to Sleep’s opus, however, Descension traverses a more varied sonic landscape, from dreamy atmospheres to riffs that function as all-consuming sonic tidal waves.
In that aural sprawl, there are hints of Godspeed You! Black Emperor and a much slower (and heavier) Pelican. In Austin Williams’ guttural howls and the punishing nature of the LP, it’s clear that Matriarch drinks from the same well as Primitive Man, which is why it’s fitting that Ethan Lee McCarthy did the artwork. Matriarch combines those sounds with the iceberg’s indifference to create an album that’s unequivocally massive. There’s also something resembling hope beneath many of the crushing riffs of Descension.
As the monstrosity that is 2020 continues to unfurl in its senselessness and cruelty, Matriarch’s Descension is a needed reminder that those ancient energies the band harnesses existed long before humans, and will continue to exist long after.
Descension releases October 30th. Pre-orders available via Bandcamp.