The music that Glassing makes can best be described as a beautifully cathartic apocalypse. It’s metal, kind of, or at least it’s extremely heavy—when the Austin band’s muscle and momentum are up to full steam, they’re as brawny and explosive as any sludge metal or hardcore band at their most potent and punishing. But it’s not the heaviness that makes them unique so much as the grace with which they deliver that brutality, a penchant for finding beauty within the bombast.
Twin Dream represents the most elegant balance of grace and aggression, a broadcast from a crumbling landscape that was recorded in the kind of place that seemed to only heighten the inevitable feeling of decay that creeps closer every day. The band described their choice of recording venue to Decibel as “an old Texas country studio that had a wistfulness of nostalgia and comfortability, but a bleakness reserved for those who could see the crumbling infrastructure. A place where the style of music that once thrived here is gone and forgotten and what’s left now is whatever godless sounds we manage to churn out.” Those sounds, godless as they may be, only serve to offer a more cinematic accompaniment to the disintegrating horizon.
Where prior albums such as 2019’s Spotted Horse showcased Glassing’s breadth and versatility both as songwriters and as a unit, Twin Dream ties up the loose threads and delivers a similar kind of diversity in approach with a greater sense of cohesion, and for that matter, power. Not power in the sense of mere volume, but power as in command. The opening rumble of “Spire” feels not so much like an exercise in heavy for its own sake, but a kind of grand fanfare of arrival—here’s where Glassing open the gates to their darkly hypnotic landscape of scorched earth and brilliant sky, vocalist Dustin Coffman screeching, “Despair is the banner we’ll keep waving.”
With the ignition of “Burden,” Glassing dial up the intensity and soar toward a higher plane, swirling elements of psychedelia, post-rock and shoegaze into their sludgy, post-hardcore surge. Where there’s a certain breed of metal band that offers a more formulaic balance of atmospheric instrumentals with moments of thunderous crescendo, Glassing offer no such predictability, moments like “Burden” providing a constantly-shifting direction, while a highlight like “No Such Virtue” is a constant barrage of low-end disturbance counterbalanced with guitars that ascend to the heavens. The elements that make up a Glassing song are present in every moment on Twin Dream, but they’re constantly expanding and contracting and being stretched into new shapes.
Sometimes they even take the shape of a proper anthem, as on the soaring, melodic jaw-dropper of a standout, “Among the Stars.” It feels like a similarly emotionally driven and commanding metal band like Deafheaven distilled into a much more concise three-minute track, before that band embraced shoegaze entirely, that is. That song closes with a poetic and evocative lyric from Coffman, who hisses, “All eyes toward the sky, where everything is still.” He could be speaking of a moment of peace, or he might be reflecting from a final moment of calm before everything is finally gone—an ambiguous and gorgeous moment that succinctly captures the duality of Glassing’s endtimes ethereality.
Label: Brutal Panda
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.