There are many different types of instrumental genres in music, but in my opinion, often it is narrowed down to two different types. The first one is made up by instrumental albums and songs that give you a good time – good music, but nothing remarkable. The second one contains the releases that can drag you in – you can feel what the musicians try to say with instruments – give you a feeling about something you didn’t really know: locations, topics – this album belongs to the second category.
The six-track EP They Were Here Before Us sent me on a trip. To me, it feels as if I was at some points at special places I had never been to. All the first three songs gave me a feeling of standing in the middle of a landscape with big mountains, snow-covered trees and pines and a pleasantly cold wind that wraps you up. I liked that feel very much. This counts especially for the first song “Foreveren” and the third song “Forests” – both are starting with hard riffs, “Foreveren” is more playful and generates a wide and cold sound atmosphere with yourself on the top of the mountain. “Forests” handles the riffs more directly, less playfully, and progresses towards high riffs that sound quite frosty in a valley in the mountains. Both songs have a nice song structure, they implemented some slower, gentle parts which gave a good harmony next to the harder parts, but they don’t loose any kind of conciseness. Additionally, if it comes to the end of the songs, they grow more intense without getting faster or harder.
The second song “Black Rose” is kind of the same, but different enough not to set it close to both of the other songs. Yes, it has this cold atmospheric, too, but it’s not that playful and smooth – it’s darker and slightly causes goosebumps. “Black Rose” irritates more with its soft drums in the background. The whole song is a repeating building of higher parts, only to let them drop, and it’s not a beginning from the start, it’s a progression of the song. The fourth track “Submarine” entirely differs from the rest, it feels more like the name of the song: anywhere in the ocean, hundreds of meters below the surface. The production makes use of additional reverb when compared to the sound of the previous tracks, which gave me more of a water feeling. The whole song is quiet and soothing, meditative – I float with the riffs. The whole song doesn’t have any kind of climax, but this fits better with the whole idea of submarine.
The fifth song is the album-titled track “They Were Here Before Us”. It reminds mostly of the first three tracks, but it is gentler in his whole structure and creates a remarkable echo chamber in your ears during its first third. Then, the structure breaks, though, and it’s directer with harder riffs – more desperate. It plays with the expectations, but doesn’t fulfil them, it surprises the listener. The last song “Riding with the Witch” is a completely different kind of thing. To me, it doesn’t stand in line with the other five songs – very dark and mysterious. Tt distinguishes strongly regarding its tone, but quotes the build-ups from the rest.
The part I don’t like the most on this album was the little diversification of a lot of riffs and sounds. I know, the genre of Post-Rock and Post-Metal has to fight with this “problems”, but in my opinion other bands and albums handle it a little bit smoother, and that’s the reason why I can’t give the album a higher rating. I must say, though, on the other hand a lot of other albums don’t achieve the feeling of echo-sounds in your head that trigger the feeling of a situation or location. The fullness of sound Matador achieve on this album is noteworthy and a high-quality mark of the album. They Were Here Before Us is the perfect album for a Post-Rock / Post-Metal fan in colder, snowy winter days.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
8 / 10
As usual, we added the favorite track(s) to our Transcended Review Playlist 2020.