On their sophomore album Those Who Tell The Truth Shall Die, Those Who Tell The Truth Shall Live Forever, Explosions In The Sky knocked my socks off by creating a disc that juxtaposed beautiful moments of shimmering guitars with some of the most rocking moments that I'd heard that year. While they weren't really doing anything different than much of the bands working the quiet-loud-quiet-loud formula, they did it a hell of a lot better than most and the group knocked my socks off live as well, with a live show that captured all the nuances of the album and then some.
While they could have continued down the same road with The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place and still had plenty of fans, they've shifted gears just ever so slightly and it has paid off in spades. Instead of blasting into huge walls of sound, the group finds themselves content to move along a more sustained middle ground, with only a few peaks and a few valleys. It's a heck of a difficult tightrope to walk, because of all the bands that have come before and all the soft-loud moments that have come before, but when they do reach the louder moments (even though they're not as loud as their previous release), it makes them even better.
While there are only 5 tracks on the release, they average almost 9 minutes apiece and EITS has once again found a way to maximize even the quieter parts. "Memorial" opens the disc with gorgeous delayed guitar that eventually intertwines with another guitar melody as they both soar higher and higher while a simple bassline barely keeps things grounded as the drums swell and burst behind it all. "The Only Moment We Were Alone" follows directly, again building up with warm ringing guitar melodies and almost marching drums. Once again, the track really doesn't have a particular structure, and even the rises and falls don't adhere to a strict formula, instead just playing out while managing to feel neither hurried nor dragging.
If anything can be said about the relentlessy-touring band, it's that they have worked their songs into such a fine groove by the time that they record them that they know just where to add in places and just where to trim things a bit. I saw the group well over a year ago in concert and they were already introducing songs that would be on this release, just as they're probably playing new things now that will make it onto their next effort. If you were one of the people that enjoyed their last release for the rock-out moments, you may find the new album just a touch softer than you expected (although the end of "Memorial" should find any fan in search of rock blasted backwards), but for everyone else this effort will more than live up to expectations. There are a lot of groups out there doing this sort of music, but not very many doing it this well.