The CLUAS Archive: 1998 - 2011


Review Snapshot:   At many points throughout 'The Sentinel' Swedish post rock merchants Aerial threaten to join the heirarchy of post rock, yet a lack of clarity and the vision to take a song to the next level leave them floundering in the 'what might have been' category. There are plenty of great moments for sure, but it becomes clearer as each track goes by that no song will take the necessary step that will mark them out as extraordinary. Instead the majority of the songs fizzle out with endings that are interchangeable with any other song on the album.  

The CLUAS Verdict?  6.5 out of 10 

Full Review:
In the last decade or so 'post rock' has become the most critically lauded musical genre of them all. Certainly, it has been the most uber-hip outpost on the musical landscape, with many of the major players enjoying as much success as is possible for groups who play, for the most part, awkward, mostly instrumental, lengthy pieces.

However, as with any other area of music there are those who excel and others who are content to plod along. Any band looking for direction in terms of post rock can go down either of two roads; set out your stall and continually build upon it ( see Isis from 'Celestial' to 'In The Absence Of Truth' ), or become creatively stagnant , as Explosions In The Sky have proven by turning out basically the same record for the last few releases. Can Swedish post rock merchants Aerial avoid the pitfalls on their new record?

Well...not entirely. Sure, there are plenty of moments which make 'The Sentinel' a worthwhile listening experience. 'My God It's Full Of Stars' sets the ball rolling, with sweet vocals, a lovely melody and Explosions style guitar work that dissolves into a crashing crescendo. 'You Will All Die, All Things Will', meanwhile, is perhaps the standout track on the album. It opens with liquid guitar lines and a fantastic, shoegazing type vocal. There's a lull in the middle of proceedings before a furious flurry of feedback that wouldn't be out of place on a Sonic Youth record. Aerial don't just deal in sweetness and light though. '46th Street' contains the kind of gargantuan riff that Isis or Cult Of Luna wouldn't turn their noses up at.

However, despite these positives 'The Sentinel' lacks a certain cohesion which would pull the whole record together. Though the bands use of vocals ensures that things never get too predictable, there is a definite feeling of deja vu at plenty of junctures. Sure, each song by itself is very pretty and lovely, but on 'Walk With Me' they get a bit too close to post rock-by-numbers, while 'The Youth Star Deleters' and 'Secret Godess' are interchangeable with each other. The link tracks only serve to make the record feel even more disjointed.

There is definitely enough going on to suggest that Aerial will make their 'Oceanic' or 'Spiderland' at some stage, but they will need to add something to the mix to avoid joining the list of instrumental also rans.

Alan Morrissey

 To buy a new or (very reasonably priced) 2nd hand copy of this album on Amazon just click here.

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Nuggets from our archive

2004 - The CLUAS Reviews of Erin McKeown's album 'Grand'. There was the positive review of the album (by Cormac Looney) and the entertainingly negative review (by Jules Jackson). These two reviews being the finest manifestations of what became affectionately known, around these parts at least, as the 'McKeown wars'.