Once we were besotted with post-rock, the genre became the new alternative culture. A form of groundbreaking music that none of us could take the ears and eyes off. For the uninitiated, which included me until I listened to this record, CARVED INTO THE SUN is a California-based instrumental post-rock/progressive rock band that released their second full-length album on October 21.

“The Earth Fell Away” tells the story of a man’s journey through grief, loss, and healing. The album’s builds are highly impactful, and the warm yet heartbreaking bassline reigns supreme. Hearing this feels like the sentimental apex of the genre, a totally heart-on-sleeve moment from an utterly vulnerable-sounding band.

There’s so much to say about “The Earth Fell Away.” Frontman Eric Reifinger wrote the album during the pandemic, when Brandon, his brother, unexpectedly passed away, and the album’s making was profoundly cathartic and therapeutic. The nine-track album is somewhere to spend a lot of time. There’s more revealed with every note and every pass, some elements becoming clear, other turns of thought. The songs are, by turn, transporting, often quietly cinematic. It’s a sound designed to overwhelm and does so beautifully, almost as if God’s weeping tears in heaven.

“The Earth Fell Away” is a triumph, above all, of engineering and arrangement. Opener ‘Hexis’ has gorgeous guitar melodies, carrying massive emotional weight like it’s trading off despair and hope until they are the very same thing.

‘5-25-20’ has an impressionistic vibe that helps us catch sad feelings we will never be able to explain or do away with. But things deepen with ‘The Earth Fell Away on Every Side.’ The track rips you off in pieces. Built into a Sigur Ros-Esque dynamic crescendo, it’s a winning formula for a memorable and surreal song. Yet, it offers incredible and irresistible energy in the tight percussion beneath the sprawling ambiance.

Follow-up ‘Inverness’ is a mesmerizing tapestry of fantastic leads, guitars, and drums. While I’m only halfway there into the album, the record cuts a hole in my soul as no other album did recently, even though I’m in a good place in life with no particular reason to bask in the sadness the band effortlessly conjures. 

‘Even as a dream’ is an exceedingly depressing setting and one most of us have been through, it’s incredible how the whispers give a sharp, stinging sense of reality while blurring the line between music and real-life nostalgically. The nine-minute song slowly builds from paced riffs to shoegaze and progressive guitar melodies, conveying the pain of a man in the grips of grief who’s flailing to find the equilibrium in the wake of a tragedy.

Though most track comes in more than seven minutes, the excellent arrangements prevent them from feeling overlong. Take ‘The Other Side of Despair’ and ‘Shoreless.’ The tracks are hypnotic, both over 10 minutes long, using their dynamism to build a grand finale.

On ‘Through My Screams the Wind Still Whispers,’ you can almost hear the sounds of sorrow in the melodic death-metal pulsating rhythms. Closer ‘Chasing the Rain’ makes you draw back to the album again. It does not require any added context or elaboration, as these songs are not just music or messages, they feel like bird calls, where we hear ourselves and our pain.

On “The Earth Fell Away,” grief, isolation, and despair are the grey building blocks CARVED INTO THE SUN used to craft their unique soundscapes of suffering and depression. Their sparse brand of post-rock passages, post-metal accelerations, and melodic death metal is unlike anything else out there, possessed of a power that takes all the tension and grief from the world to make us witness the hope and grace that comes at the end of life.

CARVED INTO THE SUN has created a remarkable record here, dancing above any particular criticism I could muster. The album is undoubtedly majestic and powerful and will appease existing band fans and post-music fans.

The drums were entirely programmed by Eric himself in Logic Pro X. The record was mixed by Beau Burchell, guitarist and sound engineer of the post-hardcore group Saosin, and mastered by Magnus Lindberg of Cult of Luna.

Compared to the first record, this new album is embellished with some collaborations: the Russian bassist Artem Molodtsov, with whom Eric collaborated by sending Logic projects via email from California to Russia and back; and Gabriel Reifinger, another brother of Eric’s, who played the piano in ’05-25-20′. The presence of the piano on this album is also a tribute to Brandon, as he was a talented self-taught pianist himself.

The album “The Eart Fell Away” can be ordered following this link.

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