(New Album Review) Amos Val- A Foundry [EP]

This next submission comes from within Portland: A Foundry, the new EP from the post-rock group Amos Val.

Though I prefer the first-wave stuff, I listen to a lot of post-rock. In the past decade, the Pacific Northwest has housed more than a few excellent post-rock groups– I particularly like Seattle’s Joy Wants Eternity and Portland’s own Waver Clamor Bellow and Grails. With their last two releases, (this new EP and their full-length album from last year, Ratiocination) Amos Val have inducted themselves not only into the pantheon of quality post-rock, post-hardcore, and ambient musicians to have come from Oregon and Washington, but into the always-growing worldwide list of quality third-wave post-rock groups.

Like Gregor Samsa, Amos Val work from a blueprint that was perfected by Mono, Explosions in the Sky, and The Evpatoria Report to create earth-shatteringly emotive soundscapes, but they make sure to deviate from that blueprint and assert themselves with some vocals and fatalistic lyricism. The decision made on Ratiocination and albums such as Gregor Samsa’s 55:12 to divide album space between pieces with vocals and cinematic instrumental pieces reveals the connection between “heavy emo music” and “post-rock”, but I think that it also gives this music a sense of intimacy.

A Foundry is a crucial release for Amos Val, as vocalist/guitarist Nathan Jurgenson and guitarist James McGaha have recruited a new rhythm section, bassist Cameron Clowers and drummer Sam Applebaum since their last recording. This brief but hard-hitting EP, of which the highlight is the ringing single “Determinism”, may very well have been recorded to showcase the new muscle behind the band. Ratiocination began with an impassioned explosion, then slowly dissolved into mysteriously beautiful ambience. After having listened to A Foundry, I am eagerly awaiting their next full-length to see the full-range of the revamped Amos Val, though you will no doubt catch a glimpse of it on the beautiful “Rest”.

Amos Val make devastating music that stays faithful to the aesthetic familiar-points of the third-wave post-rock idiom: slow-motion crescendos, ambient spaces, and anguished vocals. If all that has brought you back time and time again to post-hardcore, slowcore, and post-rock, you’ll want to watch them. You can support Amos Val by attending their show on this Saturday November 29 at the Tonic Lounge and purchasing their new EP on Bandcamp when it’s released next Tuesday, December 2.

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