For those of you who don't know, West Texas is very flat, which stands in contrast with East Texas, which is heavily wooded. Now, growing up in East Texas, I always thought that the woods and swamps and hills held a certain unrecognizable evil, one that had no identifiable form, but you knew existed, and you knew would spell your demise in a heartbeat if you encountered "it." Bigfoot? Haints? A psychotic axe murderer who had just upgraded to a chainsaw? The devil himself? "Don't go in the woods at night" was the eleventh commandment, and I held that one above the other ten. Growing up in the country, in a little house in the woods, would be kind of scary at times.
Then I encountered west Texas. Now, the "evil" (as in "good vs.") presence of the eastern part of the state didn't seem to go past Ft. Worth, but something else did---nothingness. West Texas is flat nothingness---no trees, very few hills, even fewer people, and a beautiful, vast open sky. The mere notion of what could happen to a soul if they were lost out on the west Texas highway seemed to be intimidating--but not as much as that feeling you get that there are armies of little green men flying around, doing things to hapless travelers who don't sense the presence of danger. Maybe it's just me, but I kind of shiver a little bit.
Explosions In The Sky, being from west Texas, probably know what I'm talking about. Vast nothingness can be scary stuff, especially if thrown into it against your will. Thus, this album, Those Who Tell The Truth Shall Die, Those Who Tell The Truth Shall Live Forever is a bit more influenced by the wide open spaces than these Austin-via-Midland fellows let on. Not that that's a problem--after all, if Will Oldham can draw inspiration from the well that is the Appalachian region, and if Radiohead can find creative solace and fear in the mechanical world of modern Europe, then Explosions in the Sky can be influenced by the vast nothingness of west Texas. Perhaps I'm drawn to sensing the sky and the preditors from beyond the sky because of the strikingly simple and yet beautifully disturbing drawing cover art, depicting the sighting of the Angel of Mons
That's not to say that this is a harsh album. Like West Texas, Those Who Tell The Truth... has a certain beautiful quality that comes through the general ugliness. While this is not a very easy album to listen to, it is certainly not void of lush, cinematic soundscapes and hauntingly beautiful passages. Sure, comparisons can and will be made to Godspeed You Black Emperor and Mogwai, but isn't that just a bit unfair? Besides, Explosions in the Sky are simply following in the tradition of making wordless songs to sing along to, and Those Who Tell The Truth... is totally catchy in that way. Besides, if you're from east Texas, I know damn well this album will make you wanna play some mean air drums, too. Explosions In The Sky are making instrumental metal for those who of you about to think, and I wouldn't want it any other way. If you wanna be haunted and moved at the same time, this album is most definitely for you.
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