REVIEW: LONG DISTANCE CALLING – “Boundless”
The history of progressive rock and metal has always been full of bands that put out instrumental music. Be it single songs or full albums in the manner of Rick Wakeman or Mike Oldfield, a lot of great instrumental prog has been made. In recent years there has been a rise of instrumental bands, mostly of a highly technical nature. Bands such as Animals As Leaders and Scale The Summit have been making waves. In the post metal genre, Pelican have made a name for themselves, and straddling the two worlds is Germany’s Long Distance Calling, whose upcoming sixth studio album ‘Boundless’ is set to come out early next month. Having explored the occasional vocal track in the past, they are back to creating purely instrumental music, and the result is agreeable, if not highly engaging.
They start things off with “Out There” which pretty well sets the stage for the majority of the album and lets the listener know what they’re in for. It’s a heavy, riff based piece, not very flashy, with a solid groove and atmosphere. As said previously LDC walk the fence between two often related genres; prog, and post metal. While there is certainly technicality, it is not the focal point (as opposed to AAL), and while there are repeated musical motifs and atmosphere, the songs are not the long crescendo building epics one is used to in most post metal either. The end result is a rather chilled affair, which while being enjoyable to listen to, does little to break new ground or really thrill.
The third track “In The Clouds” is a bit more engaging, and one of my early favorites. The first two minutes are quite quiet and meditative, before picking up with a quirky keyboard line and aggressive guitars. The drumming of Janosch takes on a jazzier tone, and the riffs charge into a jam style section that will make the head bangers in the audience take notice and commence moving their heads. The following track “Like A River” is my favorite, and I think the most unique as well. They incorporate violin and merge western style music into their pre-existing metal sound. If Sergio Leone had made a movie with a metal fused soundtrack, it would sound like this. As I quite like The Man With No Name it works very well for me. And as he was a unique composer, this stylistic combination should make Ennio Morricone proud as well.
The album wraps things up with “Weightless” and “Skydivers” for a runtime of just under 50 minutes. The first of the two starts off rather quietly, and in a not very interesting manner, sounding more like a mid-90s Pink Floyd track than anything else on the album. It picks up a bit in the middle to the end but doesn’t do much for me. “Skydivers” is a more interesting song, and a fitting end to the album. It is one of the heavier tracks and embraces their post metal side a bit more while maintaining the big riffs and melodies as well. It opens up towards the end with a jazzier and wilder style than any earlier songs before moving back to David Gilmore territory, but in a more engaging and memorable way.
Ultimately, ‘Boundless’ is an enjoyable, fairly easy listening album by a veteran band. While there is little to get very excited about, the music is nonetheless solidly written and performed, and a pleasant way to spend the better part of an hour. Fans of atmospheric prog, and post metal will likely find more to love than speed junkies, or someone looking for their mind to be overwhelmed with technical music with a lot of twists and turns. Long Distance Calling have released a satisfactory album, and as long as there are no unexpected surcharges in the near future should continue to please their fanbase.