UK metallic dreamers Latitudes push their ambition into clouds with atmospheric ‘Old Sunlight’

LatitudesI like a blunt, reactionary record as much as the next person. But I also enjoy putting on an album that you can tell was formed after some well-thought-out creativity sparked by whatever was moving the musicians at the time. Those are the ones that tend to get those “adventurous” and “cinematic” tags, and for the most part, that designation holds water.

Same goes for “Old Sunlight,” the new and third record from UK post-metal (for lack of a less annoying term) band Latitudes. Actually, that can be applied to all of their recordings, as you can tell these guys work and craft until their musical output matches what’s in their hearts and minds. The seven songs they present here are largely instrumental cuts, with vocals sprinkled in here and there, that could make you feel like you’re soaring through the clouds amid a blue sky. There is a passion and energy that you practically can reach out and touch, and the music can sweep you up and take you away somewhere unexpected.

Latitudes coverLatitudes have been doing their thing for a decade now, releasing their first EP “Black Epiphanies in Slow Motion” a year after getting together. Their first full-length “The Agonist” arrived two years after that, with vocalist Adam Symonds and keyboard player Rich Harper joining up with guitarists Adam Crowley and Tim Blyth, as well as bassist Jon Lyon and drummer Mike Davies.Their second record “Individuation” dropped in our laps in 2012, and all the while, the band has been strengthening their live game, including playing at a slew of major European festivals. All that clearly pays off on this third record, that has the power and energy to floor you.

Instrumental “Ordalian” begins the record in a surge, with noises hovering in the air, making it feel like you’re soaring through cumulus. The riffs crunch and bruise, but it’s not long before you’re immersed in more atmosphere and dreamy passages. Prog bursts flourish, with dramatic pounding leading to the finish line and into “Body Within a Body.” Parts of this remind me of Cynic (especially the alien-style singing), while keys emerge and send the track into the cosmos. In the latter stages, the song opens up and gets more aggressive, raging and exploding before heading into the murk and mire. “Amnio” is another instrumental cut, a shorter track that feels like walking into a science lab, with everything pulsating and visions of rolling past stars rushing to the forefront. “Gyre” also has prog-minded bits before guitars start to charge, and everything is sucked into a spiral. The keys shimmer, while the band hits on some really intricate, perplexing sections that get heavier and chewier as they go on. Finally, the intensity hits a high point before the song fades in a bed of synth.

“In Rushers Bound” has gentle singing at its start, as the song begins to blossom. Clean guitars arrive and add their dashes of color, while the sounds get cloudy, and every element pops. A gazey breeze begins to blow as moody singing arrives, classic metal-style guitars rip, and the song comes to a rushing, emotional finish. “Altar Pieces” trudges at the start, picking up the pace as it goes while the synth bubbles underneath. A blast of power metal blisters, with the drama rising, and then it’s into watery, trickling playing. The final moments are really energetic and smoldering, leading into the closer “Quandary.” This is the shortest song of the bunch at 2:27, and it evokes memories of early Queensryche, when they could be a riveting as anyone. “Let the wolves have their say with me,” Symonds calls, as his words are surrounded by whirring keys, frosty ambiance, and guitars that let a brief flame bring the thaw.

Feeling like a cerebral adventure into the stratosphere, “Old Sunlight” continues Latitudes’ run of making music that captures you and rewards you with a true experience. The fact they keep getting richer musically and more accomplished as a unit is clear on this album, and it should be a barnburner when played live. Latitudes keep building bigger, more dynamic worlds, and there are no boundaries as to where they might expand next.

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