TITLE: ALL AT YOUR MERCY
WORDS: ADAM HOPKIN
What makes art so universal is that that success, beauty and concepts each piece is measured by is completely subjective to the assessor. The format naturally breeds evolution and grandeur, will all that is produced superseding all before it. But even with a format so limitless and unbound by definition, its scope is narrowed by categorisation, but this is where Pleiades have found their home. Between the known and the unknown, between certainties, finding themselves exploring the fringes of ambition, guided by how far their inspirations pushed what was possible.
With their latest release, Manchester post rock outfit Pleiades have created a void of uncertainty perhaps best demonstrated by the sheer pace at which tracks explode into abrasive sheiks and distortion after sobering periods of tranquillity.
Throughout the record the outfit demonstrate brilliant dynamism, constant development and melodic embellishments show that Pleiades always have more to give, and they deliver each and every time. Guitar lines feel weighty, deliberate and wonderfully punctuate frontman Andy Colderbank’s astounding vocal performance. Nothing lacks purpose, ‘All At Your Mercy’ leaves you completely at the will of the band, emerging you in tranquillity only to be surged through devastating distortion, for something that contrasts on almost every level the release is brilliantly harmonious with the distinct lack of a plateau of any kind adding to the sincerity and natural approach the band seem to have produced flawlessly.
“‘All at Your Mercy’ feels wonderfully organic, with each note and melody holding a purpose without every feeling over cumbersome or wasted”
The outfit are often described as post rock or post metal, but the only accurate part of these labels is that’s they have progressed past the boundaries of what both of these genres are able to offer, instead Pleiades use these as an addition to their palette, using intricate melodies and intellectual lyricism to paint their own canvas.
For a record thematically centred around control or in some cases, the lack of, ‘All at Your Mercy’ feels wonderfully organic, with each note and melody holding a purpose without every feeling over cumbersome or wasted. This natural personality that each track flaunts results in a purposeful, raw intensity and level of integrity most artists aspire to achieve.
Opening track ‘Lotus Tree’ introduces the release with tumbling percussion over patient, reverberated guitar lines, gently working to develop intensity at a steady pace only to collapse into a torrent of distortion, enhanced by distant vocal shrieks reminiscent of Deafheaven’s works.
‘Ultra’ is immediately welcoming, with warm melodies being delivered to soothing vocals resulting in an almost trance like atmosphere. Track ‘Alpha’ is a showcase of Colderbank’s abstract lyricism that openly invites itself to interpretation. Supported by what evolves into crushing instrumentals with an almost hooky riff and frantically paced lead guitars.
Follow up track ‘Mesa’ holds a certain groove that is absent across the rest of the record and perfectly demonstrates the instrumental diversity of the outfit. An isolated baseline soon welcomes beautiful and intricately wound guitars that wouldn’t be out of place in a post/melodic hardcore release, but despite this infusion of melody nothing feels out of place.
“Pleiades consistently demonstrate a clear understanding and command of pace to outstanding affect”
Title track of the release, ‘All At Your Mercy’ is the stand out across the record, with an ethereal drawn out vocal delivery giving way to piercing instrumentals that perfectly encompass why the band excel in being the embodiment of the blurred lines between genres.
Across their second outing Pleiades consistently demonstrate a clear understanding and command of pace to outstanding affect. Whilst when compared to their debut EP, ‘All At Your Mercy’ resides in the abstract, this is exactly where the post rock outfit have the most impact. The release acts as an anomaly, defining the contrast between light and dark with previously unheard clarity. If anything, All At Your Mercy is a demonstration of true musicianship. Nothing explored across the release is to ill effect, each exploration of what the proceeding track will deliver feels rich and rewarding.