Cathis Ord - The Far Shore (2011)

 


Storytelling in music is no secret. From the smallest punk bands to epic viking outfits, everyone has something to say. So how do you tell your story with minimal vocal work? Cathis Ord, hailing from the stormy UK, are doing just that. A refreshing fusion of progressive rock and post-metal elements, partnered with sparse vocal passages, plays out like a book written in musical form.

The buildup is the key to "Rider On The Dawn," before a four stick count brings in the heavy bass drum action and atmospheric guitar work. The theme is evident, with the lead guitar work taking the place of vocals in most areas. The track features short burst of growls and screams, but the story is told through darting guitars, both acoustic and electric. The changes of tempo and tone are impressive, and keep things fresh for the duration. "Beyond These Gates" starts as a simple post-rock piece before being joined by clean, and slightly off key singing. The drums start to get heavier, and the voice gets progressively more coarse. Before you know it, you are assaulted with high speed double kicks and epic, uninhibited solos. A screaming outro provides the bookend to the track.

Arguably the catchiest track on the album, "As Winter Lays Its Siege" takes an electric guitar foundation and mixes it with acoustic sections. The back and forth provides a marvelous contrast of styles, punctuated by a growling bridge. Guitar melodies are at a premium here, playing off the thunderous drums. Footsteps lead us out of the track, and into the next, "From The Far Shore." A soft drum beat, simple bassline and acoustic guitar are the framework, with a light whine of electric heard faintly in the background. A lone drum and the cold wind are the finale.

Heavier moments are to come, with both "The Palace Without A Name" and "Fire On The Horizon" bringing the sky down. Stunning guitar work drives both to familiar places, with a tremendous set of creative drum fills steering the ship. Acoustics are used well, both as a cool down and a scene setter for the final act. The vocals border on violent in nature, cutting through the wall of guitars, bass and drums to the core of you. Piano keys ring out, and the journey comes to an end.

While vocals can certainly tell a story in a myriad of ways, telling the same story through instrumentation could prove to be more profound. And when you manage to combine both styles in a flawlessly executed work of art, you are doing more than telling your story. You are taking us all along for the ride.

10/10