Rwake is a unique sludge metal band hailing from Arkansas that I (unfortunately) had never heard of before now. Rest served as my introduction to this underground group of American metalheads, and I will declare without any hesitation that this made for one hell of an introduction. The doom-laden riffs parred by hardcore-influenced shouting vocals and highly experimental song structures makes Rest a difficult album to approach, but an absolute gem when it finally unleashes its genius upon the listener. The epic compositions and unbelievably emotional performances help round off this semi-conceptual album about the end of times, leaving us with one of the most impressive albums this year has to offer. Rwake has really crafted a masterpiece this time around, and I'd recommend Rest in a heartbeat to anybody who enjoys absolutely filthy sludge/doom metal with weird experimental and progressive overtones.
The music on Rest is actually quite difficult to describe. Rwake is firmly rooted in angst-ridden sludgy doom metal in the vein of Black Tusk, early Mastodon, and the like, but they also have a much more progressive, experimental, and psychedelic edge. All of the compositions (aside from two short intros) are exceptionally lengthy, and they often ride the border between repetitiveness and complexity. A few of the slow-tempo doom riffs are repeated for a lengthy amount of time, yet Rwake also manages to incorporate lots of quirky technical sections into most of their tracks. The epic songwriting usually alternates between melancholic, almost post rock styled, riffs and heavy hardcore-influenced sections, making for an emotionally demanding journey. Acoustic guitars even pervade the music here from time to time, especially in the very psychedelic and dreamy "The Culling". Rwake clearly dumped their hearts and souls into this album, and the sheer beauty of the riffs (or even the anger contained within the vocals) can put a huge emotional strain on the listener. Rest does often come across as extremely unsettling and sinister, and I think that the miserable atmosphere is ultimately what makes the album so excellent. If you're not willing to experience some of the most emotionally demanding music out there, then approach with caution.
Like most sludge metal bands, the main focus of Rwake isn't in the department of technically demanding musicianship, yet I get the feeling multiple times throughout Rest that these are some of the most impressive musicians in the genre. The vocals from "C.T." especially impress me. His shouted vocal style always comes across as emotionally involved and angry, suiting the compositions perfectly. All of the other musicians also do an excellent job, and their performances always come across as real and authentic. The raw and earthy production also helps emphasize all of the emotions that Rwake are trying to convey here.
Rest is an incredibly successful release from Rwake, and it's clear that they weren't just sitting around doing nothing for the last four years. This is one of the most inspired sludge metal albums out there, and I have a tough time finding any flaws contained within this exceptional effort. The angry downtuned riffs, melancholic atmospheres, and beautiful acoustic portions make this an emotional rollercoaster ride through the deepest depths of human comprehension and an absolutely essential purchase for those interested in the genre. 4.5 stars are very-well deserved in this case. If you've been holding off checking out Rwake, or if you've simply never heard of them, Rest is a terrific place to start listening.