When it comes to the harder edges of experimentation, RLYR may just be the collaboration of choice.
Consisting of sentinels from the Chicago underground scene, guitarist Trevor Shelley de Brauw (Pelican, Chord), bassist Colin DeKuiper (Bloodiest) and drummer Steve Hess (Locrian, Cleared), RLYR take their ideas of the past and dispense them in haunting new ways in the present.
It shouldn’t be a surprise. Throughout the years with their respective projects, Shelley de Brauw, DeKuiper and Hess have formed the bedrock experimental guitar music, not only in Chicago, but across the world. Pelican in particular being the finest purveyors of the post-metal aesthetic, while Bloodiest released one of the albums of the year in 2016 with their self-titled sophomore.
On their third self-titled record, RLYR enlist sound guru, Sanford Parker (FACS), and it’s another shot in the arm, as the collaboration is as fundamental as it appears on paper.
Having already worked with Bloodiest on their aforementioned release, Parker is one of the most underrated commodities from behind the studio glass. Possessing an unbridled ability to harness the live intensity of some of the world’s finest underground talent, his recordings are something of an otherworldly raw power.
And RYLR is no different. From their fantastic 2017 debut, Delayer, and their follow-up Actual Existence (2018), this is a band that is a vital thread in the post-metal patchwork, and this album continues to underline the notion.
It’s evident from the opening bars of Distructure that RLYR mean business. With crunching grooves and hypnotic tonal swerves, RLYR shake off the lockdown cobwebs with thunderous hot currents of sound.
Revelling deep in the marshlands of Pelican’s B flat tunings, Wrack is essentially the meeting point for sludge metal and doom acolytes. Meanwhile, the frantic rush of Real Air and the trailblazing Head Womb are defiance committed to tape. A majestic sequence of knuckle-in-dirt doom-rock that ends in complete euphoria.
Which leads to RLYR’s finest moment, Codeine Horse. Conveying such a song title can only mean one thing: it can’t be anything but good.
Lumbering through the misty forests like some otherworldly beast, Codeine Horse builds methodically, unfurling with nerve-shredding riff-a-rolla, wicked vibrations and earth-scorching tonality.
And that’s the big take away here. RLYR get deep into the groove, exploring the depths of tonality and incorporating searing melodies like never before. It’s not only a welcomed addition into the band’s canon; RYLR is hands down their best record to date.
RLYR is out now via Gilead Media. Purchase from Bandcamp.