Reserve De Marche – The Last Twenty Years – 82%

The Last Twenty Years cover art
Reserve De Marche are a 3-piece post-rock band from Moscow, Russia who combine soothing atmospheric post-rock landscapes with progressive-rock minded guitar riffs. After nearly two years together, the band has finally released their first full length album ‘The Last Twenty Years’, which features 3 new tracks and four remastered tracks from their 2011 demo.

The album opens with “Calorie” as atmospheric ambiance behind the tapping of a cymbal¬† quickly gives way to an upbeat prog-rock sounding guitar. While the band has been described as “Russian Circles meets And So I Watch You From Afar” by other websites, I almost immediately recognized that the band sounds somewhat similar to another band from Russia, The Jakarta Project. With their catchy riffs and bright tones the two bands share a similarity both in sound and in that they are both post-rock bands with non traditional approaches to the genre. “Calorie” finishes strong with a wide array of guitar layers including distortion tones that add to the atmosphere the band has created by falling right in line with a heavy yet subdued sound.

“Le Garage” picks up the intensity with a slowed down post-metal riff that oozes with doom-metal influence. The deep layering ensures that it stays fresh from start to finish and the strong bass line underneath the high guitar tones near the end of the track is refreshing. I commend any post-rock band that mixes their material so that the bass is prominent and not lost amongst giant walls of sound. The longest track on the album, “Forest of a Maniac” is a patient track that continually adds layers upon layers of guitar goodness, evolving from a hypnotically math-rock-esque riff to a thick distortion layer. Not to be outdone that is¬† followed up by one of the more unique riffs I’ve heard in all post-rock that falls somewhere between prog-rock and 80’s glam metal. Following a couple of minutes of intensity the track ends on a lighter note after taking listeners on a nearly ten minute musical journey of everything the band has to offer.

“Iron Flow” continues the doom and gloom trend as it slowly builds up. While I wasn’t impressed by the repetitiveness of the cymbal crashing found in this track, the aggressive guitar work did keep my ears at full interest. The raw stop and go tones just command attention and are constantly shifting and evolving at a moments notice. “Song for a Hedgehog” is a much friendlier and happier track that draws the listener in with playful guitar work and relaxing synths. This is by far my favorite song on the 7-track, 50 minute album and is as beautiful as gets in terms of relaxed atmospheric tracks.

“Stephan’s Dream” is a spacey track that takes dark distortion tones and combines them with a feeling of uneasiness and veiled conflict. As the track begins to take form, it’s easy to let your mind get lost amongst the drone that draws similarities to the likes of earlier Jesu. As the album comes a close with “Frozen Time” we’re treated to a relaxing closing number that introduces a large sound stage through excellent mixing and separated instruments. It’s a shame that this style of mixing wasn’t used more throughout the album because it really compliments the band’s deeply layered sound quite well. Crescendo guitars swirl in the background growing in intensity and enveloping the rest of the layers around it as the album comes to a close.

Reserve De Marche have done a great job to separate themselves from the pack. The band brings a fresh and unique approach to the post-rock genre without question, but I found myself interested in their material that felt the most comfortable. Essentially I was intrigued by the non-traditional elements on the album but more impressed by the way the band was able to work them into more standard material. While the album is all over the place in terms of style, Reserve De Marche does a fantastic job blending it all together and transitions never feel awkward or too much of a stretch. ‘The Last Twenty Years’ is a great starting point for a fresh band that is sure to make waves in the post-rock community. 11/12/12

Pay what you want on bandcamp: http://reserve-de-marche.bandcamp.com/