Minsk sound like a band out of time. Which feels a little strange to say/write, because during their original run, Minsk were inescapably of their time. Formed in Illinois at the beginning of the ’00s, Minsk played a significant role in the rise — and eventual saturation — of “post-metal,” the smoky build-and-peak subgenre codified by Neurosis and ISIS in the late ’90s and strip-mined by scads of imitators during the decade that followed. Minsk were among the leaders of this increasingly competitive pack during their original run, releasing three outstanding LPs before calling it quits in 2011. Good timing; public interest in post-metal had begun to collapse even before Minsk hung up their sizeable pedalboards.
Minsk reformed just two years later, and now they’re winding up to release their fourth album, The Crash And The Draw. But the landscape they face today is radically different from the one they released their last LP into six years ago. The post-metal explosion permanently altered the genre as a whole, but post-metal itself is no longer ubiquitous. ISIS broke up five years ago; Neurosis have become semi-active elder statesmen; many of Minsk’s most compelling peers have slowed down or dissolved. Even Minsk’s lineup looks different — their highest-profile member, the musician/producer Sanford Parker, has left the band, though he’s stuck around in a production capacity on The Crash And The Draw.
Just about the only thing that hasn’t changed for Minsk is their approach to making music, which somehow remains in full flower despite the band’s long silence. The Crash And The Draw revisits and expands upon the features that made this band appealing in the first place, from their meticulously layered vocals to their masterful dynamic sensibility. Post-metal bands always get saddled with wave/tide metaphors, but the way that “When The Walls Fell” gradually rotates between restraint and aggression until it reaches its emotional climax really does evoke some cyclical force of nature — a force that remains as powerful as it’s ever been. Listen.
The Crash And The Draw is out 4/6 via Relapse.