ALBUM REVIEW: Whispering Sons – Image
Photo Credit: Flor Maesen
Belgium’s Whispering Sons debut album Image follows on from three years of critically acclaimed EP’s and singles, during this period they have become synonymous with a vintage sound and a haunting aural landscape.
From the road noise styled crescendo that launches this album, it is clear there is a city scape quality to the building musical layers here. Every laboured note from the guitar and basslines lingers just long enough for the next note to pile on top, creating a musical wall as this process repeats. With every piling note these walls build into a larger soundscape, and with drums so tight they are almost mechanical there is a definite urban quality to this musical landscape. By urban we are talking concrete and iron structures towering as far as the eye can see (or ear can hear). This mood is elevated with a dark vocal with lingering syllables, despite having a distant quality this vocal somehow remains the focal point.
These soundscapes continue to build and flow throughout and the album slowly develops an alarmingly dystopian feel. The guitars have a disorientating sound with the ever building feedback and distant lingering notes, behind which hide choppy bass and synth lines and deep ominous drums. As this combines with haunting vocals this becomes an album that never allows the listener to feel comfortable. There are incredibly pleasant moments, but hidden behind is at least one piece of off kilter musicianship to cement the sense of dread. There are standout tracks throughout but the album doesn’t work in quite the same way in chunks, as a whole piece the themes within lyrics and composition develop as track follows track, intensifying the entire experience.
Lyrically the disarming nature of the album continues. The dark lyrics focus primarily on mortality, and as the intensity increases the mortality of the entire world is addressed with feedback and building soundscapes begging to be torn down. The word play is well considered with repletion of themes throughout that continually cements the macabre melodies. This multi-layered piece is completed by the lyrics, every haunting laboured vocal note, every build and every crash are perfectly paired creating a sense of dread that slowly becomes comforting.
The musical comparisons are vast, with some focusing on certain moments and others obvious throughout. There are moments where a cinematic feel, almost feels like Trent Reznor or Brian Eno had scored a Bond theme, moments where the metallic drums have the chain whip of Suicide and quiet passages that bring comparison to the national.
Overall this is a timeless piece of incredibly dark post-punk with hints of Depeche Mode, The Birthday Party, The Cure, AFI and Lou Reed’s darkest moments. There is also an instrumental element that throughout suggests if the vocals were removed this could be a good math rock album, with musicianship and prowess comparable to Talons, Brontide and 65daysofstatic. This album is far better than good though, and despite it’s almost indescribable sound this is a truly dark, fascinating collection.
Standout Tracks: Alone, Got a Light, No Image
For Fans Of: Scuicide, Depeche Mode and 65daysofstatic
Written by: Ben Adsett