My first introduction to Explosions In The Sky came a couple months ago when I was pointed in the direction of 2 of their MP3's on some random site out on the web. I downloaded both tracks onto my computer at work and after forgetting about them for awhile (I'm usually working on something, this happens often), I loaded them up in the old player and started listening. The first track I loaded up was fairly quiet at the beginning, moving along with some nicely shimmering guitars. In haste, I turned it up a little more, hoping to hear some of the finer nuances of the music through my crappy computer speakers and try to decide whether the album was something I would be interested in when it came out.
After a few moments of this, the speakers got absolutely blasted with scorching guitars and thundering drums. I hadn't paid heed to the "total silence to total violence" warning on the labels website and in doing so had not only managed to scare the crap out of myself, but make my co-workers slightly annoyed with my loud musical outburst.
Of course, the fortunate side of all this is that my interest was piqued. Although that furious walloping of sound was by far the loudest part of the individual track, things didn't get boring from there out. The group winded things down and kept things interesting for the rest of the duration, even though the track spanned over 7 minutes in length. That track "Yasmin The Light" is the second track on the disc and if you don't get your socks knocked off by the first track of "Greet Death," you will. Oh, you will. It's not like you won't notice the first track on the disc "Greet Death," either, as it sustains an even more rigorous pacing.
Although this group is yet another one that takes the instrumental guitar rock formula and plays almighty on sheer dynamics, there's something surprisingly fresh about this 6 song release that stretches out to almost 50 minutes and somehow never seems boring. While Mogwai succeeded earlier this year on Rock Action with adding some new wrinkles to their sound, Explosions In The Sky is essentially taking their original formula and giving it another workout. There are moments of cinematic beauty that sound like something out of an Ennio Morricone spaghetti western score and moments where the group even draws up the sonic fury of Godspeed You Black Emperor. One of the elements they employ several times over the course of the disc (including on the closing, 12-minute epic of "With Tired Eyes, Tired Minds, Tired Souls, We Slept") is an almost military march of drums that leads to an impending squall. It's one of those things that you can see coming, but damned if you can avoid being pulled in.
As a sophomore (their debut, the limited How Strange, Innocence, is much out-of-print) album, this is absolutely stunning. If you're a person who likes epic tracks that somehow offset quiet beauty with rocking flareouts, this album will be on repeat in your player for quite awhile after you get it. Along with the bombast and amazing guitars of fellow Texans Lift To Experience (on their Texas Jerusalum Crossroads album), it makes me wonder what's going on down there in the Lone Star State lately. I guess it's time to bring the rock, and they're helping lead the way.