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Former Worlds Iterations of Time

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Former Worlds - Iterations of Time
1. Spectre
2. Variations on a Cave
3. Palimpsest
4. Widow Moon
2020 Init Records

OUR SCORE
8
Reviewed by: Colin   //   Published: 5/19/2020

I won't pretend to have heard Former Worlds' first release, a seventeen-minute single track titled "Photos Of Eve IX-XVI," when it was released three years ago. I only discovered the group's existence recently when a new album in my inbox came with the label "Sludgegaze" attached, and as much as these mish-mashed sub-sub-genre tags irritate me, my curiosity overtook my general good sense. What could this term encompass that the equally cringe worthy "Metalgaze" hadn't already? Did we really need another obscure denomination to further break down a tiny sub-sect of extreme music? The answer, of course, is definitely not.

But none of that matters, because the Minneapolis-based group's new four song full-length is actually really good. Iterations Of Time is an exercise in bleakness, one shade of black after another. Former Worlds base their sound on a fuzzed out deep low end, a sort of Jesus Lizard on Quaaludes bass tone that sets a foundation for everything else to be built upon. But instead of the tried and true formula of crunchy guitars or stoner grooves, the group expands outward through layers of synth and noise. The accompaniment lands somewhere between the swirling sounds of an Acid Mothers Temple freakout and the ominous soundscapes of such Sci-Fi soundtrack themes as The Terminator or Blade Runner; which actually makes a lot of sense, considering the lyrics for Iterations Of Time are based upon science fiction novels.

And like that source material, the album carries with it an overall dystopian atmosphere. A feeling of existential dread hangs over each track as the record unfolds. Creative drum patterns fill the space left between the bass and synth, while raspy screams rise from the dark. The vocals, which avoid monotony by often employing a dual harsh exchange, even feature a sparsely used, palatable clean tone reminiscent of the calm meditative voice of Bloody Panda's Yoshiko Ohara. It's perhaps what metal might sound like on Isaac Asimov's Trantor.

But what makes Iterations Of Time so good isn't just the gloomy vibe that characterizes Former Worlds' sound, it's the overall songwriting skill that drives it. Composed and recorded by a group of former and current members as the band underwent some personnel changes, the album never sounds like a disjointed effort. In fact, it's the exact opposite. The songs build upon serpentine structures, morphing seamlessly while establishing themes that rise and fall and return in altered states. With a skilled understanding of when to hold back and when to let go, Former Worlds have crafted a uniquely original album.

Bottom Line: I'm not going to use the band's self-assigned "Sludgegaze" descriptor; this is just Sludge for all intents and purposes, but it's a different kind. Former Worlds have an interesting and unique approach to the style that sets them apart from the pack and Iterations Of Time is well worth your attention.

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