The Wait Is Over
It's been four years in the making for *shels sophomore full length, has it been worth the wait? The answer has to be a resounding yes. The time spent making "Plains Of The Purple Buffalo" has obviously been worthwhile, as the band seems to have grown into their sound and evolved nicely so that here the feel is more laid back, more organic; of course they still have beautiful, low and chunky bass lines and those moments of surrender to the darker side where the rush of guitar and drums threatens to blow your face off, however the sound here has more of a folk edge, is less directly 'metal' in approach and at times is downright melodic.
The record, although very cohesive feels less rigidly structured than the tracks on debut "Sea Of The Dying Dhow" where the 'start slow and build to a huge climax' was the most common structure. The odd sprinkling of chunky, ear burstingly heavy guitar remains of course but this new record seems to be more playful, still just as intense but in more subtle ways; it's very dreamy, cinematic in scope and has moments of real fragility. One mention should be Mehdi Safa's vocals which feel more relaxed here; he uses his huge, often impressive range to the full and it's slotted into the mix perfectly.
The album drops some really sublime moments; 'Plains Of The Purple Buffalo Part 2' is one such track and with some great brass, uplifting vocal lines and intense layers you can really lose yourself; the murmuring, muffled background hum of 'Waking' after the intensity of 'The Spirit Horse' is like a warm summer breeze; the crashing wall of sound on incredible closer 'Leaving The Plains' is huge and expansive. The list goes on with too many moments to mention. This is a brilliant sophomore record and a more than worthy successor to "Sea..." , fans can breathe a sigh of relief, the wait is over.