Review: Sarin – You Can’t Go Back (Prosthetic, Feb 5)

Whether your instinctive response to provocative comparisons is interest or disgust (to be honest, my own tends to be more of the latter), I encourage you to read on after I make this one, which I can’t seem to get out of my head: Sarin’s You Can’t Go Back responds to post-metal in much the same way Andrew W.K.’s I Get Wet responds to metal. I’m probably a much bigger fan of that testosterone-fueled major-key masterpiece than most, but something I think everyone can appreciate is its general approach of molding heavy music into something more palatable and party-friendly (hence the “party metal” descriptor). While You Can’t Go Back is free of bizarre misogyny, excessive wall-of-sound layering, and saccharine keyboards that put even Springsteen’s silliness to shame, I can’t escape the sense that Sarin’s fusion of patient dynamic builds and atmospheric sludge grooves has the same brightness and playful spirit to it. “Cold Open” starts things off quite abrasively, but we soon see a softer side with both the loud and quiet sections of “When You Melt,” which draw as much from meaty power-chord riffs and radio cock-rock as they do bands like Isis and Rosetta. Surprisingly, one doesn’t really notice the quite sparing use of vocals, which typically add a much-needed dimension to this particular style; instead, the band keeps listeners in rapt attention with earwormy, anthemic arrangements and a near-flawless sense of pacing. The latter quality is clearly apparent in album highlight “Thick Mire,” an appropriately titled tour de force of intricate psychedelic jam and grinding heaviness, while the former is perhaps most conspicuous on majestic closer “Leave Your Body,” which blends gruff bellows with soaring guitar melodies to incredible effect. If you find yourself slipping into a dark winter slump, throw on this record.