Review by Jason Guest
With their second full length, Germany’s Downfall of Gaia are still walking that long and winding road into oblivion. Comprised of seven long, slow-burning tracks, woven into Suffocating in the Swarm of Cranes’ bleak atmospherics is both a deep sense of despair and futility as well as a firm defiance and an unyielding determination. From the dark allure of ‘[Vulnus]’ through to the swelling catharsis of ‘[Asphyxia]’, Downfall of Gaia’s proclivity for the disturbingly gentle and the tightly-wound and intensely subtle is as remarkable as it is when they turn to the heavy side of their musical spectrum.
Drawing on sludge, post-rock, black, doom, and hardcore for their diverse musical landscape, while ‘Drowning By Wing Beats’ is both eerie and intense, ‘In The Rivers Bleak’ seethes with torment and aguish, as if poised on the verge of an inescapable nightmare. ‘I Fade Away’s slow atmospheric arpeggios reverberate and slowly evolve and give way to an emotionally intense track, and both ‘Beneath The Crown Of Cranes’ and ‘Giving Their Heir To The Masses’ are gargantuan in their overwhelming dark splendour. Compounded by the band’s refusal to rush, push, or impose upon the tracks a formula or restrictive structure so that they collapse under their own weight, Suffocating in the Swarm of Cranes exemplifies a band that gives the music the time it needs to take shape and become what it needs to be.
A concept album that addresses the human resignation to structure and the reassurances of predictability in a mundane and unsatisfying existence, the depiction of both the loss of the self and alienation in the immediacy of existence is outstanding. A band that functions as a unit and an album that works as a whole, that is the success of Suffocating in the Swarm of Cranes. If you like Isis, Neurosis, and Wolves In The Throne Room, this will be a more than worthy addition to your collection. If not, you should try it anyway.
7.5 out of 10
- Drowning By Wing Beats
- In The Rivers Bleak
- I Fade Away
- Beneath The Crown Of Cranes
- Giving Theor Heir To The Masses