Post-metal is kind of a loose term. Used mostly to describe bands similar to bands like Neurosis and Isis, it has now become a label to put on many bands that are hard to describe, but may share some of the aesthetics and/or influences. Latest full-length from Finnish band Callisto titled ‘Secret Youth’, shows that you don’t have to make 10-minute songs to be called post-metal.
After checking out their past releases I definitely see why Callisto may fit the term. But with their new release ‘Secret Youth’ they have widened the parameters and help further the genre. This album hit me right from the start with opener ‘Pale Pretender’, and as the track progresses I sit back more and more intrigued.
After a great start with some really good melodic interaction between the guitars and the bass, the vocals come in and I was expecting more of the low-end Isis / Cult of Luna type of growling, so I was quite taken back by the clean, haunting vocal melodies. This helps set them apart, but they also know to throw in some brutal screaming at just the right places.
As the album unfolds itself I see that one of Callisto’s strengths, apart from strong melodies, is their use of dynamics. The songs are well structured and layered with lots of subtle elements that elevates these songs to greater heights. The guitars step down a bit in between to give room for keys and atmosphere in the more mellow parts, but still as the bass keeps going you still get that heavy vibe.
Songs like ‘Acts’, ‘Grey Light’ and the epic closer ‘Dam´s Lair Road’ are good examples of that, and the tracks that first stood out for me with its strong melodies, great use of dynamics, powerful vocals.
Definitely an album that is best enjoyed in its fullest, ‘Secret Youth’ is very well produced and mixed, There’s nothing revolutionary going on sound-wise, but its a good piece of work and the precision of how the different sounds work together is impressive. A rumbling heavy bass sound that has that halfway distortion sound going for the most part. The guitars are also heavy, not heavy in the traditional metal distortion sense, but packing a lot of punch and grit and with a balanced use of effects.
Many a times you can listen to a record and you’ll love the sound of the drums, or the guitars or whatever, but many albums fail to get an overall sound that makes the different instruments match each other. This is not the case with ‘Secret Youth’, everything blends so well together, and even though they have many layers of guitar and synths, you still hear the pounding drums and that heavy bass crisp and clear.
All in all, ‘Secret Youth’ is a well written and well put together album that at first glance may seem a little lightweight to be called post-“metal”, but give it a chance and you’ll see that there’s more depth to being heavy than screaming and heavy distortion.