DYSTOPIAN FUTURE MOVIES
Post Rock, Atmospheric Sludge Metal, Dream Pop.
Oak Island Records
Listening Format: CD
Dystopian Future Movies are an Atmospheric Rock trio from Nottingham, England and this is their debut album 'Time'. Their music is written by vocalist and guitarist Caroline Cawley with apt lyrics that seem to evoke a fear of things to come. DFM have built up their own signature style of writing that combines elements of Post Rock combined with the classic loudQUIETloud formula. Though their songs tend to average the 5-6 minute mark (as opposed to Post Rock's often lengthier dirges), they often build up slowly and gradually, ebbing and flowing between soft, Ambient textured and atmospheric clean guitar passages, and loud and explosive distorted guitar sections. Whilst this is far from a new or unique approach, it is the genuine delivery and craft of this band that helps them to stand out.
'Time' has been produced by drummer Bill Fisher (who also plays in Church of the Cosmic Skull alongside Caroline), and excellently so as one of the biggest selling points of this debut full length is how lush and realised everything sounds. For just a guitar, bass, drums and vocal trio their music genuinely sounds bigger than the sum of its parts. There are many subtle textures to be heard, whether it is a guitar effect here, or a buried vocal line there, revealing themselves further with each listen. Even when the drums are playing at a steady, slow pace, they are always interesting, adding a hypnotic quality, and then booming into life with choppy fills and aggressive playing when necessary (check out the intro to 'Dulled Gilt'). Caroline Cawley's voice and guitar sound are completely inseparable. The two always play in complete harmony with each other as the songs build. Every clean guitar passage will be complimented with a hushed and fragile vocal that verges on a whisper, whilst every distorted riff that soars into Sludge Metal will be accompanied with Caroline's gnarlier screams and howls. She is clearly the real star of the band and her voice and use of melancholic chord progressions often grab the listener and are full of genuine moments of darkness as well as beauty.
In particular lead single 'Pieces' sums up exactly what DFM do best all in one track. The dynamics of the song are teasing and alluring. Just as the song feels like it is going to explode into thundering riffs, the trio will suddenly pull back into soft and slow dreamy rock again. It takes a couple of builds up and crescendos before that momentum they allude to fires into life, taking the listener on that journey. 'Fortunate Ones' is another huge highlight on the album and certainly the most "Metal" song here. The track bursts into life much sooner with pounding drums and chugging riffs, whilst still holding on to that fragility that haunts their sound and writing style. But perhaps my favourite track of all is the beautiful 'Inertia'. This song has the brightest production and the most colourful sound, lead by mostly clean guitar that recalls Smashing Pumpkins 'Mayonaise'. 'Inertia' is a perfectly placed centrepiece on the album and the liveliest and prettiest track. Whilst I genuinely enjoy all seven tracks on this album, the way the album ends is a little underwhelming. 'Fugitive Minds' is a good track but just as it feels like the song is building to its climax, a misplaced fade out interrupts the song all too early. It feels like the studio engineer yelled "Time's up!" and cut them off mid song. 'Fugitive Minds' not only feels unfinished, but it leaves the album without a powerful finale that it so deserved. I feel like 'Forgotten Ones' would have served as a much better climax to the album, or at just 37 minutes, something else could have come in to close off the album. At least DFM have sent me off wanting more, in what is genuinely the only detracting moment on the record.
Dystopian Future Movies have successfully built on the promise of their fantastic EPs and delivered one of the most emotive and haunting Rock/Metal album's I have heard this year. For a debut album, 'Time' is a more than solid surface to leap off and I expect DFM will go on to even greater things in the future! Recommended for fans of Chelsea Wolfe, Slint, True Widow and Esben & the Witch. 8/10.