Just five years after its release and about 18 months since the Brooklyn outfit called it a day, it’s probably early yet to start enshrining Hull‘s second album, 2011’s Beyond the Lightless Sky (review here), but I think it was safe to say even when they were still together that Hull was among the most underrated metal bands New York ever produced. I mean that, and especially if you listen to this record it holds up. Their 2009 debut, Sole Lord, felt insular in its production and dense narrative, but by the time they got around to this consuming 57-minute offering it was clear they’d learned valuable lessons in the two-year interim.
Released through The End Records, Beyond the Lightless Sky was stunning in its complexity and reach and structure, bringing together ambience and intense, fierce drive in a way that few bands could or would dare to try, sounding aggressive but not necessarily angry, desperate for knowledge in that way Neurosis sometimes seems to be, but only using post-metal as one among many stylistic influences — that is to say, Beyond the Lightless Sky was no more post-metal than it was thrash or doom or sludge.
In the end, it was one of those records you just kind of had to tag as “progressive” and leave it at that, both because it was a legitimate progression from where they’d been before and because nothing else quite captured the scope of what they accomplished even in 11-minute opener and longest track “Earth from Water,” let alone in songs like “Fire Vein,” “False Priest” or the title cut.
And when it came to the response, I think maybe it was the broadness of Hull‘s songwriting that held some listeners back from fully appreciating the entirety of the record. As I recall, Beyond the Lightless Sky was well reviewed and the response generally positive, but I never thought it got quite as huge as it should’ve.
I mean, here comes a band who basically offer up the next stage of what Mastodon should have become. They toured to support it multiple times on multiple continents, but maybe were too aggro for bigger labels — though where Relapse was on picking them up, I couldn’t say — and always resided somewhere between a heavy rock/sludge scene that embraced them initially and the wider spectrum of metal, which had too easy a time casting them in the light of being a stoner act, which I really don’t think they ever were, on Sole Lord or the Viking Funeral demo that preceded.
I kind of keep my fingers crossed that they will just announce one day they have a new record done and mastered and ready to launch, but I think even in the best case scenario, we have a ways to go before we get there, and the further we move in time from Beyond the Lightless Sky — which I still feel like I get something new from every time I hear it — the clearer it becomes just how special a document Hull left behind before they went their separate ways.
As always, I hope you enjoy.
Had this one on my mind after reviewing the Phantom Glue record earlier this week and being reminded of how awesome the drums sounded on it. Figured all the better to close out with it since between that and High Fighter‘s Scars and Crosses (review here), it was pretty metal around here this week, though the Nathanael Larochette on Tuesday and King Buffalo record today provided some counterbalance, which I like. A little of this, a little of that. In any case, thanks for reading.
Have you gotten your tickets yet for The Obelisk All-Dayer, Aug. 20 at Saint Vitus Bar??? They’re going. Get them here.
No, really. Do it.
I don’t mind telling you that last week was one of the worst I’ve ever had. I might write about it at some point, I might not, but yeah. Truly abysmal on a life-altering scale. It’s been a tough time, particularly for the last month — though starting a new job has been a largely positive experience — but I’m feeling better this week than I was last week and I’ll get through whatever I need to get through. I feel fortunate to have things like this site and The Obelisk All-Dayer in my life, both to provide distraction and to provide support when I need one or the other. And of course thank you to my wife, The Patient Mrs., for her boundless wisdom and love.
Next week? Let me check the notes…
Okay, gonna review the Bonehawk/King Nomad split from Ripple and hopefully Beelzefuzz if no other streams come through (there are a couple that might), but I’ve got a track stream and review planned for Church of the Cosmic Skull, who are kind of a new band who do a very lush classic prog, super-harmonized in the vocals with organ to match. Very cool sound. That’ll be up next Thursday, so look out for it. Also videos from Howling Giant and Lava Moth, which features former members of 500 ft. of Pipe, all the news that’s fit to cut, paste and put in blue typeface, and anything else I can think of along the way.
Headed to the beach this weekend, and though it’s raining today, I’m looking forward to watching the drops fall on the water and don’t at all mind a lack of pre-August overwhelming sun-assault. The Patient Mrs. and I have some friends coming north from Maryland, and I expect great times and great vibes to abound. I hope whatever you’ve got planned, you have a great and safe weekend.
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