Metallic dreamers Daxma bask in absorbing grief, handling losses on captivating ‘Unmarked Boxes’

Photo by Ben Hirschfield

It’s easy to get bogged down in loss and grief, common themes the last year and a half for all of us, and I’ve written about it extensively based on my own experiences and pain. Getting lost in it might seem natural, especially when it feels like everything around us is negative, and that can cloud our eyes from the good that’s going on around that can be reinvigorating to our spirits.

Oakland-based post-metal quartet Daxma often wrote about philosophical and anti-capitalist political perspectives, all of which we support wholly, but this time they turned their focus inward on “Unmarked Boxes.” The title is taken from 13th century Persian poet Rumi’s work of the same name that basically says don’t grieve as the things you love come back in other forms. Not that grieving should be avoided, but one should keep in mind that positive energies shift and change, we find things of wonder and beauty in other places, and we can grow and heal through those ideas. The band—Isaac R. (guitars, vocals, bass), Jessica T. (violin, vocals, guitar, piano), Forrest H. (guitar, bass), Thomas I. (drums)—spreads these sentiments and emotions over six charged, riveting tracks that visit dark and light, misery and revitalization, all of which fill you with varied energies that help you find some sense of recovery.

“The Clouds Parted” runs 13:25 and opens unassumingly with keys dripping and teasing before the track powers open. Isaac’s vocals settle over everything, injecting power, while the drama builds and strengthens its hold. Jessica’s voice enters the fray as we have dual voices moving, amplifying the darkness, sending a deluge of sounds to swell the high point. The playing fades into dark before reemerging in a gaze, spilling slowly and bleeding away. “And the Earth Swallowed Our Shadows” moves with precision as noise moans and keys slither, and then the water rush, keeping you afloat on your journey. That leads into a murk that finally settles in echo, and then we’re into “Hiraeth,” a 13:29-long epic that’s majestic from the start. Sounds swell as Jessica’s voice explodes and drives the plot, synth sways, and strong jolts get your blood racing. The violin play amplifies and makes your mind soar, while graceful melodies encircle, the playing rains down, and everything submits to the sunset.

“Saudade” enters with acoustic guitars and some thick cloud coverage, echoes filling your mind. Gazey wailing creates a syrupy drip that enters your veins, and the gears move into “Anything You Lose,” an 11:21-long journey that starts in psychedelic clouds. Alien strangeness clouds as breezy night winds take hold, and dual vocals increase the dreaminess. As the playing unloads, it feels regal and driving with the strings calling before the guts get ripped out. The playing goes from calming to punishing, stomping and rising with a fury as frigidity takes over and smears into 9:43 closer “Comes Back in Another Form” where strings hover like a storm. Ominous bashing and a heartfelt deluge unite and increase your adrenaline while the melodies crush hard, feeling energetic and jabbing. The temperature changes for a stretch as the strings sting and the storm promises a soaking that finally arrives and bleeds into morbidity that sends endless chills down your spine.

Daxma’s power and energy are forces with which to be reckoned on “Unmarked Boxes.” That’s not just musically, where their might is apparent, but also thematically as the band gives you a place to deal with pain, loss, and regret and make sense of these darker elements. For those of us suffering, especially the ones who have been for extended period, this record is a great place to center yourself and absorb these forces and turn them into positive energy.

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