Pipe Dreamer’s Heartfelt Post-Metal Holds “No Solace for the Soulless” (Early Stream + Track-by-Track)
Music's capacity to evoke emotions in us and our enjoyment of it are tightly linked -- I've never found myself bored by songs that managed to tug at one heartstring or another, no matter how it happened. Knowing the theory, nailing the notes, and fine-tuning the production only go so far compared to having a story to tell or a feeling to express. This is where Florida's Pipe Dreamer shines, and why their debut full-length No Solace for the Soulless hooks its claws in so quickly: their doomy post-metal is sturdily tethered to the sentiments it was created from. Each song is shaped around poignant thoughts as if it were a living organism, its actions guided by an internal nervous system. To give you the full picture, we're premiering the album in full as well as a track-by-track rundown from guitarist/vocalist Zack.
One of the strongest tools Pipe Dreamer wields is their development of motifs, and that's what stands out to me the most on re-listens. Though the classic trope of "riff that starts quiet but comes back heavy" is applicable (and appreciated) here, most songs laterally sidestep that pattern and experiment with their key melodies through more than just amplification. What starts as a softly-hinted suggestion of a melody builds up through staggered escalation from the band, filling in missing notes, trying out higher registers, all leading to the realization of some huge riff or new development that, it turns out, was there all along, just veiled behind nuance and suggestion. Nothing ever feels disjointed or out of place, and each iteration makes perfect implicit sense.
Blending together post-metal and doom metal can take a lot of forms, but on No Solace for the Soulless, it often means both taking place at once. On my favorite track "Go With Grace," doom riffs that could have easily stood on their own find themselves backing up laconic, reverb-drenched tremolo leads, adding rock-solid groove to the introspective top layer and enriching both parts.
That same song also contains some of the fastest moments on the album, where the high-speed mayhem seems to waver on the edge of falling apart -- given the song's theme of accepting death, it's more than fitting. Every human-feeling touch on this album only reinforces the impact and the talent underneath it. Rough edges are often polished away in post-metal, or perhaps just avoided, but the imperfections here are raw reminders of the music's impetus -- dealing with an imperfect existence.
To further illuminate No Solace for the Soulless, guitarist/vocalist Zack weighed in on each song -- here's his track-by-track walkthrough.
"Struggle and Strain" was the first song we wrote. Lyrically it's about my relationship with pursuing music. It's very meaningful for me to play music but it comes with its own set of challenges. For me, the juice is worth the squeeze. This is also the first time I've tried to do clean singing in a band.
"Now or Never" was written with "Struggle and Strain" as one piece and that's how we play it live. A sort of continuation of the same theme, with more of an urgency. The years I spent unable to play music heavily affected me. As I've gotten older it's become more apparent that if you want something, you need to go for it.
"Brothers I & II" is a piece of music we wrote together in 2012. Nate and I spent a few days a week, for almost a month, working on the guitar parts. At the time, it was the most ambitious music we'd ever written. Unfortunately, a couple days before our first show, I got swine flu and couldn't play. The band dissolves. We never get to play this music for anyone. Then in 2018 Nate joined Pipe Dreamer and we knew we had to revive it. Having it on this record feels like we've finally laid the spirit to rest, as weird as that is to say. Lyrically, it deals with the feeling of kinship we have for each other. My brothers mean the world to me. I wouldn't be here without them.
In "Free From Fear of Failure," we tried to explore our use of space a bit more. Hoping that the different melodies would make each listen a little different. Thematically, it's something I think we all deal with. For me, sometimes that's feeling like I'm too old, sometimes it's feeling not good enough but the basis of all of it is fear. I long to feel uninhibited by the fear of failure.
"Go with Grace" is a very personal song for me. I wrote this song after the last time I saw my Aunt Tam. She was dying of cancer and moving out of state, I knew I wouldn't see her again. She just smiled and said she'd see me later... completely unafraid. The music goes from being mournful to angry. It's a very emotional song for me to play.
I wrote "An Anxiety Arises" as my expression of how an anxiety attack feels. The thoughts spiraling out of control, telling yourself that everything is alright repeatedly until you make it through and the almost shell-shocked kind of feeling after it's over. We thought it would be a nice comedown and closure to the album.
Music has always been something I've latched on to in dark times. It's helped me through when I wasn't sure anything could. My most earnest desire is that this music can be there for someone else who needs it.