There’s something alluring and poignant about post-metal, especially when it’s brought down to the most minimalistic aspect of sound. While post-metal can be expansive, something about using soundscapes that would be more in line with a Devin Townsend Project album but making them shoegaze-y is something that I didn’t expect. After all, in the short time I’ve known about them, Pelagic Records tends to release music that is heavier and sludgier than what SOM offers on The Shape of Everything. However, this goes to show that music cannot be heavy all the time. Such is the beauty of The Shape of Everything, an album that makes me think about the abstraction and placement of space and “Stormbending.”
It’s difficult to describe – objectively – how this album makes me think about sound, because it sounds like everything I have heard from other albums that toe the line between heavy and non-heavy elements. However, in the space of 34 minutes, SOM has managed to sound like everything and nothing at once, and that is impressive. Let me explain.
For those of us who are more acquainted with the heavier aspects of post-metal, hearing The Shape of Everything for the first time can be seen as a pause in between the music we consume. The Shape of Everything is catchy, lined with different melodies and soundscapes that are in line with the greens of its album cover, and has opted to go more for the shoegaze aspect of post-metal. On this album, the vocals and the instrumentation are in line with each other, no one taking precedence over the other. In most cases, especially when we think about shoegaze, something always tends to get lost within the confines of the atmosphere, as everything acts as a maelstrom that leads to a cohesive whole. Here, SOM opted to have both aspects stand together, opting to use the vocals as an added ingredient rather than the focus of the record. In short, what you get is an experience that is both grandiose and small in scope, a quiet space in between the calamity and the cacophony. I also can’t help but think about the song “Stormbending,” because the main theme throughout the album sounds so similarly to that song that I can’t help but be slightly deluded that SOM will play a cover from Transcendence.
The only issue I have with The Shape of Everything is that you can easily get lost within the confines of their sound. If you decide to listen to the album on loop, you can start to see how it can fall into the background, sounding more like pleasant white noise than an album proper. However, the album still has enough catchy melodies and variance to keep interest throughout various replays, and I enjoy albums that allow me to keep playing them until I can no longer stomach them.
All in all, The Shape of Everything is an album that offers tranquility within its confined space and one that elicits a sense of nirvana you don’t get from most albums. It’s difficult to categorize this album as metal, given the lack of heavy, driven instrumentation and harsh vocals one is more familiar with, but then again, shoegaze is metal-adjacent and this album has beauty in spades.