Matador is a four-piece band from Vancouver, British Columbia that recently released They Were Here Before Us. On their Bandcamp page they just say “post rock/post metal.” That’s about as accurate and brief description you are going to get.
There is so much on these songs that hit all the right buttons for me. On the post-rock side I think comparisons to bands like Explosions in the Sky and Godspeed You! Black Emperor is there. On the heavier rock side I was hearing things that were in a similar sphere to bands like Tool, Russian Circles and even Sunn O))).
Suffice it to say there is a symbiotic element to these songs where the various styles feed off each other making a cohesive signature sound for the band. The opening song “Foreveren” gives you a very good indication as to what you can expect from the band. It’s dark, foreboding and also soars. The lead guitar in more typical post-rock fashion is laced with hall reverb and not a boatload of distortion. I would say the more metal or hard rock aspects came from the rhythm guitars which contain more of the white noise distortion.
It isn’t all dark though. There are clear moments of serenity and even beauty you can hear on a song like “Black Rose.” Take for instance the airy and uplifting section around the two-minute mark. Instead of trying to obtain something more beautiful, the band disrupts it with jarring distortion that cuts through like a knife. I loved that type of transition that blurs that line.
By the time you get to “Forests” you should have a clear idea of their sound. They do throw a wrench in the equation with the ambient “Submarine” which is a nostalgic drone. This felt like a very appropriate move from the band that felt aligned with their sound. They get back into a more familiar mode with “They Were Here Before Us.” “Riding With The Witch” is a killer closer and arguably the most ominous sounding song in the batch.
A lot of people say post-rock hasn’t known what to do with itself for a long time. That might be true. The genre may have already peaked. Bands like Matador know how to keep the flame burning. This should be one for the win column for fans of post-rock, post-metal, instrumental music and people who prefer the dark side.
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