Rolling Through the Universe – Machines in the Sky

Rolling Through the Universe might be most misleading band name of all time (barring Sluts Who Will Literally Come To Your House and Suck Your Cock For Free… nothing but lies, subterfuge and restraining orders there, believe me). Sound unheard, the name Rolling Through the Universe conjures a leisurely stroll past the pillars of creation, with maybe a short brunch with 27 Tauri before a jaunty, Willy Wonkesque tour of the Cotton Candy nebula. Back on planet Earth, Rolling Through the Universe are a thunderous slab of melodic, progressive sludge delivering whiplash head-nod grooves and an ambient temperature that ranges from “frozen night of the soul” to “nuclear aggression.” A Portland three-piece consisting of Cody Klewin on six string exoplanet destruction and vocal quasar annihilation, Martin Castello creating better black holes by imploding drums made of red supergiant stars, and Eric Wallce emitting vocal and low frequency four string extinction event level radiation, Rolling Through the Universe counterbalance their affinity for the far reaches of the frequently obscured Rip City night sky with a sonic approximation of the overwhelming oppression of near constant rain and clouds as well.

  

Sonically, RTtU have some kindred spirits in Cult of Luna, Neurosis, Yob, High on Fire, et al, but RTtU have a sincerely unique atmosphere about them that more calls to mind Hum or even Failure in regards to melody and psychedelic output. Machines in the Sky covers quite a bit of ground in its fusion of ideas, often not just in the same song, but in the same movement. Songwriting is a strong point for these guys, and tends be a key component of what separates the great from the mediocre in a band that strikes out on a bit of a different path in this type of genre. Song lengths hover around the 8 minute average, and it’s easy to bore a listener or get repetitive in that time period. RTtU solve this quandary by not just riffing endlessly, but riffing interestingly, and fleshing out the result with atmosphere as the perfect chaser to the burn of their brilliant fury.

 

The five minute album opener “Not in This World”, defines the palette and lays out the framework for the album that unfolds thereafter. For the duration you won’t find a trick or songwriting convention elsewhere that isn’t used here first, but the genius bit is that while this might stifle less talented craftsmen, RTtU define enough interesting parameters on the initial command that their recombinant efforts are endlessly fascinating.  Eponymous track no. 2 opens with a horrifying sample of some alien creature dying an agonized death, possibly entangled in the errant ribbons a of Studer tape machine as both are sucked into a hole in space/time, before launching into a triumphant riff that wouldn’t be out of place on You’d Prefer an Astronaut and then smashing headlong into crushing detuned figure with an almost aching delay lead soaring above it like an astronaut cut loose from his umbilicus and floating further toward certain finality. The rest of the song crushes and turns unexpectedly, but always with that familiar sense of both doom mixed with the forlorn.

 

Honestly, it’s tough to write about the rest of the album because you mostly just want to bang your head and raise your glass, and quite frankly it's better to go into this one blind, and let it surprise you. With the exception of a few brief spots where it feels like the band is about to run off the rails (and even then, these feel more like well worn pages of a much read book than any true error on the bands behalf), Rolling Through the Universe have crafted an exceptionally brilliant slab of melodic doom as sentimental as it is punishing. Repeat listens only strengthen appreciation, and will quickly find Machines in the Sky a permanent space on hard drives, as well as frequent oscillations on  transducers both near and far.

 

 

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Written by Mort Subite

Rolling Through the Universe - Machines in the Sky
Hidden Temple Records
4.3/5