It's clear from the name Young and in the Way—a play on Jerry Garcia's bluegrass side project—that this Charlotte band isn't about fitting any mold. They give equal weight to black metal, grindcore, noise rock and crust punk, situating them alongside metalhead buzz band Trap Them. Their melodic patience and spacey post-rock-informed epics, however, suggest something more in line with expansive metallurgists Wolves in the Throne Room. On previous releases, those instincts often seemed to oppose each other; on V. Eternal Depression, Young and in the Way finally merges its ideas into one menacing whole.
It'd be easy to think of V. in terms of the record's two sides, but its overall stylistic obstinacy unites every front. The A-side begins, ends and is interspersed with haunting piano phrases; the music goes strange places in between. Opener "Descending the White Mountain" is a tense, ominous and seething stomp that launches into the feral grind of "Times Are Cold." These sort of minute-and-a-half blasts are no longer the norm. "The Great Blue Norther," for instance, stretches into a spacious bridge that allows a single-note riff to counter the dense verses. That same riff leads into "Oceans of Eternal Depression," which drops into a forceful mid-tempo stomp evocative of Godflesh.
The B-side is one 12-minute song, "The Gathering." Low, muted guitar, saxophone drones and roiling percussion swell together into a flood of woodwind mayhem and brash cymbals. But the maelstrom soon opens into a gorgeous orchestral movement of acoustic guitar and strings. A polyrhythmic drum line and chants morph somehow into a wailing, exit-in-flames guitar lead, with shredded vocals buried beneath. It's a surprise ending for an album that thrives on just that.