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Album Review: Actual Existance by RLYR

Chicago-based experimental rock trio RLYR (pronounced “Relayer”) release their sophomore album, Actual Existence on 13th April via The Flenser. This represents a step forward in complexity for the instrumental band. Comprised of Steven Hess (Locrian, Cleared, etc.), Colin DeKuiper (Bloodiest, ex-Russian Circles), and Trevor Shelley de Brauw (Pelican, Chord, etc.), RLYR have fine-tuned their MC Escher-esque song structures while preserving the indelible earworm melodies that are their hallmark.

Formed in early 2014, the RLYR became quickly renowned for their taut, energized live performances in the wake of support slots for Deafheaven, Nothing, The Twilight Sad, United Nations, Oxbow, and This Will Destroy You. Capitalizing on their early creative synergy, the band recorded and released Delayer in 2015.

For a four-track album Actual Existence is superb. What it tacks in volume of tracks it makes up for in runtime, clocking in at just shy of 40 minutes. Opener and title-track ‘Actual Existence’ is expansive and ambitious, aiming for (and achieving) a complex post-rock tinged opus. It’s good, but it ends up be the weaker sibling to the ludicrously instantaneous ‘L.Layer’. Here your served 8 minutes of immediate and intricate melodies that you can’t help but fall in love with. There’s all the crescendos and climaxes you could ever need never mind being blown away by the multiple textures and detail.

There’s a dirty, heavy groove to ‘Artificial Horizons’. While it might start out playing the antithesis to the euphoria of ‘L.Layer’ it too develops into post-rock elation. The heavy groove marks out the first 5 minutes of the track before everything comes together in a myriad of guitars exploding with life affirming energy.  ‘Vacancy’ revels in its complexity and veers through full on experimental rock, math rock to atmospheric post-rock. Wonderful stuff.

AD Rating 9/10

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