EP Review: Coastlands – ‘Death’

Posted: by The Editor

Death is an apt name for Coastlands’ release. There’s a sense of foreboding to it – gravity, even – that their previous music never had. This is likely due to their forays into heavier territory. The band had flirted with more aggressive music in the past – especially on their last album, The Further Still – but Death finds them embracing post-metal to a degree they never had before. In the past, on songs like “Quiet Beneath the Yangtze River,” songs built from languid, pretty arpeggios to climactic, pulverizing finishes; on Death, in many cases, they’ve dropped the crescendo and moved straight into the darkness. “Lay Waste,” wastes no time, beginning immediately with a cacophonous wall of sound. This is demonstrative of Coastlands’ approach on Death, and it’s what helps the LP stand out compared to other recent post-rock records. It eschews long-winded build-ups to instead go straight for the jugular.

This is immediately put on display in opener “Abandoner,” which falls closer to instrumental metal than anything else. It’s punishing from the second it begins, and at no point does it let up. Neither does “Feverwind,” which immediately follows. One of the fastest songs in Coastlands’ discography, it sounds like a speedrun of a twenty-minute doomgaze song in six minutes. But other songs do still give a bit of breathing room. While “Dead Friends” leans the most into metal – essentially ending as a full-on black metal song thanks to Dustin Coffman of Glassing’s harrowing shrieks – for its first four and a half minutes, it’s the closest thing to any of Coastlands’ pre-Death work on the album. 

The best balance of the light and the dark comes on “Marrow.” It feels like a cousin to some of the prettier stuff on Deafheaven’s Sunbather in its ability to synthesize triumphant post-rock and crushing metal, not only in the same song but in the very same beat. While “Dead Friends” is a Coastlands song that turns into a metal song, “Marrow” is a metal song played over a Coastlands song. It closes out Death with an air of twisted familiarity, like a return home after a long journey only to find that home has changed in the meantime. Death is, in its way, a journey through the darker and heavier tendencies of the genre, and there are far worse guides out there than Coastlands.

Disappointing / Average / Good / Great / Phenomenal

Follow Coastlands on Twitter and Instagram.

Zac Djamoos | @gr8whitebison

The Alternative is ad-free and 100% supported by our readers. If you’d like to help us produce more content and promote more great new music, please consider donating to our Patreon page, which also allows you to receive sweet perks like free albums and The Alternative merch.