Last Tuesday, Final Days Society released their new album Icebreaker, which could be described simply as an escapade. The Växjö, Sweden quintet have created an album that is difficult to isolate under a specific genre or to compare with any single artist, as their music extends from post-rock to prog-rock to electronic to shoegaze. Each of the album’s six songs, however, share two common characteristics – cinematic and dramatic, with each song building to the album’s climatic finale. While it is a concept album, Icebreaker feels more like a soundtrack for a sci-fi or interstellar movie with its orbital sounds and cataclysmic flourishes.
The album, however, starts off quietly with the lush and ambient “Downer”, which has the spatial feel akin to We Are All Astronauts. That is followed by “The Drifter”, which is essentially is the second half of “Downer”. However, with the introduction of horns and a post-rock vibe, “The Drifter” is more dramatic, and it soars to new soundscapes.
Things then get extremely interesting on the album, as the guitars get a bit more shoegaze-y, the percussion, particularly the cymbals, crash more loudly, and the Final Days Society’s sound becomes more intense as the album’s plot thickens. “Icebreaker” builds slowly and the whirlwind of instruments collide in the song’s middle part. It feels like your soul is being crushed before the band dials down the instruments and Suwat Khanh’s voice aches in the foreground. Then the collision of instruments returns in the song’s crushing ending. In the background, the voices of astronauts can be heard, giving the first explicit indication that this is indeed an album made for unchartered territory.
On “Overburdened Companions”, the album’s highlight, the mass of genres come together on this slow building and euphoric number. This kaleidoscope of a track consists of M83’s otherworldly brilliance, Explosions in the Sky’s shimmering guitar ecstasies, and The Amazing’s prog-rock sensibilities. “At Peace, At Last” and the finale, “Debris”, mirror “Companions”, but they lean more towards the shoegaze and guitar-centric post-rock of Explosions in the Sky. Both start off subtly before building to their explosive finales.
If there is one complaint, it is that the six songs by Final Days Society follow too closely the same arrangements and approach, particularly the latter half. Breaking up the songs with either an interlude or something quite different would help create variety or a bridge between the different songs, thus creating a more cinematic quality. That said, Icebreaker is stunning and at times mind-blowing good.
Final Days Society are Suwat Khanh, Andreas Jeansson, Pierre Olsson, Marcus Knutsson, and Anton Grundberg. Purchase Icebreaker on the band’s Bandcamp site. You can hear the whole album below.
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