Produced by Chris Fielding (Conan) at Skyhammer Studio, mastered by Audiosiege (Converge) and featuring artwork by Dehn Sora (Blut Aus Nord). Released 5 April 2019 via Debemur Morti Productions.
When I first listened to this album from London sludge/post-metal/progressive band Latitudes, I was taken by surprise by the delicacy and fragility of its opening track “Underlie“. Backed my acoustic guitar, piano and cello it sounds more like something that I would expect from indie singer-songwriter Martha Bean.
But then around three minutes in, this thin facade is stripped away and replaced with a wall of guitars and a melody that swoops and drives. The vulnerability remains, the genre just shifted.
Track two, “Moorland is the Sea” begins with a gentle pulse of bass guitar and descending toms. The melody is drawn out in wide, rapidly picking guitar chord progressions while Symonds’ lamentful lyrics glide effortlessly within the space that has been created. There are definite echoes here of Latitudes’ slude metal past with large slices of sound carved out and dragged lovingly to its conclusion.
This is an album filled with sadness and regret. The lyrics nod to personal and political themes—the mysteries of love, islands both literal and metaphorically self-created. This is an album about dissolution, leaving and reaching an end without ever truly knowing why. There is a sense of longing in the music, a feeling of yearning for something beyond itself. It is quite hauntingly beautiful.
Track three, “Dovestone” opens with a solemn and lamenting riff that twists and turns throughout the song. Around two minutes in, the song strips back to bass, drums and falsetto vocals before building again. The main riff returning like a heartbeat throughout the song. I’d love to hear this song played live—standing, feeling this musical heartbeat pounding my own.
“Fallowness“, track four, opens with what sounds like a cello. It sounds like a fog horn gently bellowing into the fog. Then the waves crash in—walls of guitars, clean baritone vocals escaping between the pulses. Then like an island within the song, gently plucked guitars and a haunting vocal. Not for too long, though, this song has probably the rockiest and loudest section.
The penultimate track, “The Great Past” (track five) follows beautifully from “Fallowness” with the same upbeat tempo and energy. The riff twists as the song progresses. If anything, this song has few ideas and felt overlong to me. (But maybe I’m just tired.)
Closer, “Past Islands” (track six) is the longest track on the album. It echoes the first track with an acoustic guitar and vocals intro. By now, the pattern is clear—delicate and gentle, haunting and vulnerable before sweeping that away with walls of sound and pounding drums… quiet middle eight that is contrasted with a renewed energy of sawing guitar tones and soaring vocals. Repeat til the end.
I like this album. It wasn’t at all what I suspected and that’s often a good thing for me. I love the vulnerability and openness of this music and these vocals. Both are heartfelt and stunningly beautiful.
This is definitely an album I would reach for to listen to as the haar descends on Crail and the sunlight is dissipated through the fog.
Review score: 85%
Rob at Stampede Press UK contacted me inviting me to preview Latitudes’s recently released album, which I was delighted about. I have no connections to either party. I’m not being paid to review this. But I did get a free digital copy of the album to review which is pretty cool. Many thanks to
Rob at Stampede Press UK , and to Latitudes for creating some fresh, exciting music.