Much like Wayfarer, Deschain plays a style on Grit, Pt. II: Drift that I’m now calling Wild West black metal. Fortunately, this is hardly a bandwagon situation despite the rather niche categorization, as the Bloomington group has seemingly been operating under the radar since their 2008 formation. This specific album is their fourth full-length as well as their first to come out in five years, an interesting predicament when you consider that it is meant to be second in a trilogy.
When listening to Grit, Pt. II: Drift, one can immediately note that the band isn’t afraid to intermingle the extreme metal and Americana elements of their sound. The bleak desert atmosphere is persistent in both soft and heavy sequences and there are bits of harmonica and similar instrumentation to induce atmosphere in the quieter segments, but these elements are not mutually exclusive.
There are many moments where traditional instruments are blazing tremolo lines or brittle guitars dish out borderline boogie rhythms. This is best demonstrated by “Drift,” which starts with can best be described as a black metal hoedown and then features a couple different sequences where the vocals transition from southern preacher style testimonies to extreme shrieks with unwavering rhythms. The absence of any tongue in cheek attitude is what makes this gimmick work far better than how I just made it sound.
If anything, this album might have a little too much going on. Aside from the three-minute-long “Untitled” serving as an early interlude, the other three tracks are all nine to thirteen minutes long with extensive structures and numerous tempo changes. It’s been the band’s modus operandi since the beginning and works even better here thanks to solid musicianship, but it can still get a little overwhelming at times. It’s not a matter of any parts needing to be cut so much as certain sequences needing more space to breathe.
Overall, the commitment that Deschain puts into blending the black western style keeps their fourth full-length album from being just another entry in the bandwagon. The band also demonstrates a great deal of personal improvement as the musicianship is tighter and the vocals pull off the dexterity more successfully than before. There’s still some work to be done, but hopefully this will get them more momentum than before.
“Dust of Life”