Coping with the loss of a close friend is a difficult situation for anyone to find themselves in. The death of a band member can make moving forward an extremely difficult task, and this has been evident countless times in the past. Any band that chooses to continue and release music following this should, at the very least, be respected for choosing to cope with the loss of a close friend by using their creative outlet. Few bands, however, did this to the same level of quality and emotional rawness that Australian Post Metal band We Lost the Sea achieved with their 2015 release, Departure Songs.
Following the death of their front man Chris Torpy in 2013, rather than looking for a replacement singer the band decided to continue as an instrumental project, and this decision was by far the best choice the band could make. Following on from a record as good as Departure Songs was never going to be an easy feat, but nevertheless, 4 years later the band have finally released the follow-up to that record: Triumph and Disaster.
The album opens with 'Towers', a 15 minute mammoth of a track which is laden with huge distorted guitar passages, slowly building throughout its run time in a way not too dissimilar from other instrumental metal bands like Pelican and Russian Circles. The timbre and texturing on this track is very rich, creating a huge but also apocalyptic sound on this track. There can be no doubt at all that Towers starts this record off on a very high note.
Sadly, following a fairly solid opener, the material that follows seems to pale in comparison. Following track 'A Beautiful Collapse' is by no means a bad song, it features a lot of precise instrumentation and an interesting bassline, and strays away from being a derivative or generic effort as far as post metal goes, but it pales in comparison to Towers fluidity. With that said, thankfully the album does pick up a little bit with each following song, in particular the cinematic 'Parting Ways', which finds a good balance between the softer and heavier flavours on this record.
'The Last Sun' is another high point too, with dissonant guitar passages and a final minute or so that ends up being one of the most sinister parts of the entire record. Closing track 'Mother's Hymn', a song featuring vocalist Louise Nutting of Wartime Sweethearts is the first We Lost the Sea song with vocals on it since The Quietest Place on Earth, the band's last album with Chris Torpy. The song does a fine job of bringing the album to a close; it's one of the softer numbers on the record which suits the dreamy female vocals on this track just fine.
Triumph and Disaster is by no means a bad album, and there's more than plenty of moments on the record that are of the kind of standard you'd expect from We Lost The Sea. However, what this record ultimately suffers from is a clear inconsistency as far as the quality of the material is concerned, as well as production and a mix which doesn't do the material justice. Felt most prominently in the heavier sections of the record which are massive walls of sound to the point that it becomes exhausting to listen to, resulting in a listen that often becomes jarring. It's a real shame, because these flaws prevent what is generally a fairly good record from being a great one.
Overall, We Lost the Sea should be commended for wanting to move away from the emotional weight of Departure Songs, but unfortunately the flaws present in Triumph and Disaster are too large to ignore, and given how powerful their previous material is, an album that for the most part rolls through the motions is sadly a disappointment.