RLYR – Actual Existence

4 out of 5

Label: Flenser

Produced by: Greg Norman (recorded, mixed by)

Yowza, Delayer was a couple years ago already?  Anyhow, kids, if you missed the boat while keeping track of all those live not-new-albums Pelican keeps putting out, the minimalist named RLYR appeared in our recent past with some Pelican, Russian Circles, and Locrian guys in the mix, and pretty much did our sludgey, icey, instrumental metal hearts proud, with four tracks of varying length and rockitude.

Now: Actual Existence, album two, and instead of delivering on that expected sound – which we could call Delayer’s main hitch, that it was fairly standard (though excellent) compared to templates of what the players’ had worked on before – RLYR goes for the damn thrashy throat with blazing finger-tapping and time shifts and goddamned NOISY end sequences, especially the burn-the-speakers-down minutes of the concluding track.  There’s a bit more consideration for exploring space as a band, here, in other words; it doesn’t just come across as “so-and-so and so-and-so got together for some jamz.”

…This new exploration comes with its own hitch, though: every track has a bridge that, I dunno, feels like too purposeful of an attempt at being feel-good rawk.  Like they sketched out milestones to meet for each song: Epic metal; head-banging sludge; jaw-dropping time changes; …and tap-your-toes catchy tune.  It doesn’t stick out as much as I’m making out, but after many a’listen, I noticed that I would fade out at a certain point of each track – only to be rattled back to attention by some massive ear-damaging pummeling – and more attentive assessment found these little simplistic passages that I guess just serve to extend the song length…

On the whole, man, I don’t frikkin’ mind, because RLYR’s Actual Existence delivers on the Pelican promise of that dropped off like three or four albums ago, and the Russian Circles’ potential that’s, ahem, never been achieved.  You are correct that I don’t own any Locrian albums to make some similar snipe about them.