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Divine Soundscapes Explored: Stander - Vulnerable Review

The Chicago trio exemplify the beauty that is possible through the post-rock medium.

Photograph by Corbin Howard

Words by Luis (@heaviestofart):

The Garrote, a new label co-founded by photographer Josh Ford and Brian Barr of Aseethe this past December, has hit the ground running with a slate of 2022 releases to look forward to, the first being today's subject: Stander's Vulnerable. Like the alluring Caleb Phillip illustration adorning it at the forefront, Vulnerable is multi-faceted from one track to the next and is representative of the heartfelt camaraderie that surely lies within the band's ranks.

From the jump, Wither eases listeners in as a soothing entry point characterized by glistening guitars and melancholy. Stephen Waller showcases his drumming prowess at alternating pace, excelling at raising and lowering tempos with finesse. Following track Patience takes the slow burning route, opening with a hard-hitting guitar and bass pairing courtesy of Derek Shlepr (bass) and Mike Boyd (guitar, effects). The otherwise tranquil nature then takes a turn and erupts into a maelstrom of blast beats, rumbling bass lines, and tremolo-picked riffs. This same high-octane energy bleeds over into Procession up the Tower, an electrifying beast that takes several shapes and forms. It's at times black metal in scope and sports a breadth known to top post-rock ensembles, like God Is An Astronaut and Explosions In The Sky. Frozen River is much more pensive and radiates a sorrow carried by Boyd's guitar melodies. The instrumentation on the following He Was A Poisoned Man is exquisite and elaborates on how well Seth Manchester mixed and recorded the composition at Machines with Magnets. Every sonic layer shines and each member's contributions are given the spotlight they deserve, especially during the closing Aberrant. The track comes brimming with variety and puts an end to the record on a high mark.

Vulnerable shines as an introspective experience, proving to be best felt in solace for every passage and gentle melody pulls on one's heartstrings. It's as the saying goes: Where words fail, music speaks. The instrumental effort needs no lyrics to convey its message of fragility and emotional volatility, only atmospheres that paint a vivid canvas in the listener's mind. Tune in and let the band's hymns consume your attention for a tantalizing 35 minutes. You'll be glad you did.

Vulnerable is available now via The Garrote. Order your copy HERE.

Cover Artwork by Caleb Phillip


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