Every so often, a special kind of album comes along. It may not be played often, and it’s only ever played in full, but when it does grace the speakers, you are absorbed. Tunnel Blanket is one of those albums.
In their opening bars, This Will Destroy You create a gentle ambiance of an open void, which is then shattered by the drone of tortured machines. The drone motif recurs throughout the album, in danger of becoming overpowering; however, the quartet toes the line almost perfectly.
In fact, fault comes instead from a switch to the soft acoustic bass of second track “Communal Blood”. The tortuous ambiance crescendos to only a timid level, but would have served better a lot higher in the mix.
From the outset, This Will Destroy You break from the admittedly-loose confines of post-rock rhythm which pervaded their earlier releases. Flashbacks of Spiritualized in their ambient space-rock prime are a parallel seen often throughout this release.
Tunnel Blanket forces you to engage, and forces you to be affected. It pulls you in without letting you leave un-changed. Even when played in the background, it will impose itself, unduly colouring everything with its melancholic beauty.
The seething pulse of “Hand Powered” and the growing cacophony of cymbal crashes in “Black Dunes” both have an uncanny disassociative power, a tribute to the album’s effectiveness.
A beauty shines through this record that is more powerful than any bubble-gum pop or sappy love-song. It’s the woeful pleasure, or passionate melancholy, gained from taking pleasure in one’s own sadness. It’s the introspective and narcissistic bliss of wallowing in despondency. Above all, it’s cathartic.
There are few, but noticeable, missteps. Both “Osario” and “Reprise” serve as breaks in the action, in an attempt to cleanse the palette. Whilst a drop in intensity is needed, neither contributes to the overall feeling the album fosters.
Criticisms aside, This Will Destroy You have succeeded in creating a beautiful album that has the ability to describe and define emotions. You may not listen often, but each time you do, Tunnel Blanket will bring those emotions back. It will bring you back to when you first absorbed the pulsating drones and seething rhythms. It takes a rare type of album to define a period in your life, or an emotional state. Tunnel Blanket may just be one of those rare albums, if you let it.
Review Score: 8/10