Canyon of the Skull Stream New Album Sins of the Past in Full

canyon of the skull

Founded in Austin and now located in Chicago, Canyon of the Skull release their third album, Sins of the Past, on Nov. 20. It’s only been two years since founding guitarist Erik Ogershok — who then also handled bass duty — stood astride the band’s second full-length, the 37-minute single-tracker The Desert Winter, and yet clearly much has changed. For one, what had for a time been a duo with Ogershok and drummer Adrian Voorhies is now a trio with a full rhythm section in bassist Todd Haug and drummer Mike Miczek (also The Atlas Moth, etc.), and the latest work is produced and mixed by Sanford Parker with mastering by Collin Jordan, so yes, very much embracing the Windy City and its various resources. The changes go beyond that, however, as Sins of the Past brings forth two massive instrumentalist riff-slabs, lumbering and metallic in their root in kind, with “The Ghost Dance” hitting 25 minutes long as “The Sun Dance” on its own nearly matches the entirety of The Desert Winter at 34:12. The simple math has it at 59 minutes of plodding, sans-vocal sprawl, atmospheric but not overly ethereal or psychedelic while still managing to bring together elements out of post-metal, sludge, doom and traditional heavy metal.

Most impressively, Sins of the Past — which takes its thematic from Native American issues and stories from the Southwest — does not simply shift between styles. Throughout “The Ghost Dance” and “The Sun Dance” alike, it isn’t a case of “a doom part” and “a Canyon of the Skull Sins of the Pastmetal part,” or some such. Rather, OgershokHaug and Miczek bring these various sides together into one cohesive sound that is fluid in tipping its balance from one genre to another. This would almost have to be truer of “The Sun Dance,” which is even more extended than the leadoff track, but the ethos is the same across both, and it comes to fruition in thoughtful but not overthought progressions of patient, guitar-led rollout and sections of alternately tense and open-feeling movement. It’s not exploratory in the sense of jamming and seeing what happens — there’s a definite plan being followed here — but there’s still something about Sins of the Past that seems to draw the listener deeper into this complexity. It’s a heady release, to be sure, and a challenge in the sense of asking its audience to keep up with changes across 25- and 34-minute pieces that offer no vocals, much substance and purposefully little by way of an instrumental hook, but that only means there is more to dig into, and even in its later reaches, “The Sun Dance” in particular is immersive while holding to the relatively straightforward, grounded tones of its predecessor and the general spirit of the release overall, which doesn’t stray too far from the central, earthy atmosphere that “The Ghost Dance” incites early on — an immediacy underlying all the sprawl and end-to-end distance of the material.

It probably goes without saying (and yet, here I am, saying it) that a record comprised of two so drawn-out instrumental movements and makes so little play toward general accessibility probably isn’t going to be for everybody, but for more adventurous metallurgists and those craving depth and breadth alike, there’s plenty in Sins of the Past to inspire deep-dive listening, tracking each movement of the guitar, bass and drums as you go. I won’t say a negative word about that approach — it certainly has its advantages — but when it comes to Canyon of the Skull, it seems no less important to consider the overarching ambience that comes through the material even as the material itself isn’t all that ambient. That is, if one thinks of the record as a single work, then what’s the mood of that work? What is the work as a whole saying? In some ways, I wish Ogershok was more open in discussing the specific themes he’s working with in his songwriting — sometimes instrumentalists are surprisingly verbose on such matters, but apparently less so in this case — but his approach of “letting the listener decide” has arguable merits of its own as well. I’ll take it either way, I guess.

The more crucial matter would seem to be the urgency of the music itself, so maybe it’s best to let that do the not-talking. Ogershok does offer some comment on the record’s making below, following the player on which one can find the entirety of Sins of the Past streaming ahead of its Nov. 20 release.

I hope you enjoy:

Erik Ogershok on Sins of the Past:

“I try to do different things with each record and this one is no exception. This record is visceral and immediate, like the self-titled, while being highly conceptual and dynamic like The Desert Winter. ‘The Ghost Dance’ is probably the best thing that I have written to date. ‘The Sun Dance’ is unlike anything that I have ever written before. It incorporates my basic philosophies of composition but applies them differently, one that I jokingly call prog-doom.

The main aesthetic and themes that Canyon of the Skull was founded on remain unchanged. This band has always been focused on telling the stories of Indigenous Americans and their environments, specifically those of the American Southwest. I am still surprised at how many people have never met an Indigenous American, but we are not extinct, and this band exists to tell our stories both past, present, and future. This record is a bit more broad with the subject matter since it involves the rituals of tribes far from the land of my people. Also, this record is more influenced by recent events that have an impact beyond Native communities. I don’t like to talk specifically about the deeper meaning of any of my compositions as I want people to discover their meaning in our music. These two pieces have very specific meanings to both me and the wider world and googling the titles is my recommendation for people that want to delve deeper for the literal meanings.”

Recorded at Decade Music Studios March 2019
Recorded and Mixed by Sanford Parker
Produced by Sanford Parker and Canyon of the Skull
Mastered by Collin Jordan at Boiler Room Mastering
Artwork Layout and design by Erik Bredthauer

Canyon of the Skull is:
Erik Ogershok- Guitars
Todd Haug- Bass Guitar
Mike Miczek- Drums

Canyon of the Skull on Bandcamp

Canyon of the Skull on Thee Facebooks

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One Response to “Canyon of the Skull Stream New Album Sins of the Past in Full”

  1. […] Sins of the Past (Album Stream): theobelisk.net/obelisk/2019/11/12/canyon-of-the-skull-sins-of-the-past-review-stream/ […]

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