Explosions in the Sky – Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Die, Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Live Forever

Explosions in the Sky
Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Die, Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Live Forever

The unfortunately named Explosions in the Sky feature cover art of an angel “blessing” an airplane, with the doom-impending words that the airplane will crash tomorrow on the back. The album was released mere weeks before the September 11 crashes, and again I’m left wondering how long it will take the tragic events of that day to leave our collective consciousness. Don’t frown upon Explosions in the Sky, for their name was chosen long before that day.
Their music, however, is strangely fitting. A combination of explosive, somewhat chaotic instrumental rock, this Texas quartet plays some very powerful rock. They claim their influences as 80’s metal and goth-rock, but fans of current instrumental rockers like Mogwai and Cerberus Shoal will appreciate this talented band. Unlike those bands, however, Explosions in the Sky have a more visceral rock approach, led by layers of melodic guitars and great, vibrant drums. You couldn’t put lyrics to these songs, but they firmly fit into the rock category, lofted into originality by explosive climaxes and swirling atmospherics.
The opening “Greet Death” builds to an explosive, driving climax at merely the two-minute mark before fading into quiet, murmured guitar, leading back up to a crashing summit of drums and melodic layers of guitar. Even more explosive, “Yasmin the Light” virtually assaults you with driving guitars and emphatic, powerful drumming, all over an absolutely gorgeous guitar line, but like most songs on this release, the track fades quickly into silence, left to flow in a soft, textured manner and then build again, almost as a living, organic thing.
That’s the way this band works. Songs are left to ebb and flow, building and then falling off to build again. But there are more calm, peaceful moments here. In the 10-minute “Moon is Down,” the lengthy introduction is a lovely piece of quiet rock. Even when the drums come in, it continues to flow nicely. “Have You Passed Through This Night?” actually has vocals, but they’re so soft, whispered deep into the music, that they might as well be another element of the instrumentation. This song is the perfect example of the band’s progression from extremely soft to all-out blazing rock, then ending silent to begin “Poor Man’s Memory.” This song contains some of the most extreme rock on the album, full-out guitars and drums, but only briefly again. And the closer, the 12-minute “With Tired Eyes, Tired Minds, Tired Souls, We Slept,” has some of the best guitar effects and layering on the entire album.
The name Explosions in the Sky is fitting for this band. Their music soars, filled with lofty guitar lines and layers of atmospherics. And their songs explode, often hitting their climax several times in a single song, building and dropping off. It’s an interesting course that you must follow with each lengthy sound. And while it’s not the most original style anymore, it’s done here with incredible precision and passion.