Midas Fall - Cold Waves Divide Us

Midas Fall – Cold Waves Divide Us

Midas Fall have released their fifth album, the ethereal Cold Waves Divide Us, six years after their well-received Evaporate won the PROG magazine ‘Limelight’ award in 2018. Some may not be familiar with the atmospheric soundscapes of this post rock band, whose first album was released in 2010, but this one is definitely worthy of exploration. It is great to sometimes make a discovery out of nowhere, and it was their Covers EP in the Spring of 2023 which grabbed my attention, with its fascinating versions of three well-known songs, including a melodic take on Bruce Springsteen’s Dancing in the Dark and a suitably bleak and emotive Creep by Radiohead. As a hook to attract someone unfamiliar with their music, Covers really worked, so I found their previous Evaporate and looked forward eagerly to their next album.

Midas Fall paint moving sonic landscapes in lush waves of ambient rock and impassioned vocals. For years they have been a duo with Elizabeth Heaton on distinctive and arresting vocals and Rowan Burn leading on electric guitars, although both of them are multi-instrumentalists, covering drums, synths, strings and piano between them. However, for this album they have been joined by Michael Hamilton on bass, but he also delves into synths and drums in this multi-talented band. What is apparent right from the first song, In the Morning We’ll Be Someone Else, is that the band have taken it up several notches in terms of volume, intensity and intricacy since Evaporate. This opening song slowly builds and builds, with Heaton emotively vocalising, until they reach a massive crescendo with stratospheric guitars scraping the sky, Heaton howling into the hurricane of sound… after a night like that it’s not surprising they are someone else in the morning! It’s certainly a great way to grab the listener and show their intent. I Am Wrong is altogether more rhythmic – a darker observation on feeling trapped in a relationship in which you never feel good enough. A memorable repeating guitar motif threads through this piece, which drops to a quieter hiatus in which Heaton chants “I am wrong” repeatedly before howling in anguish with cavernous guitars and drums… this album is passionate and not for the faint-hearted at times.

Salt provides some respite with its fragile opening… but the tempo and power rises as Heaton gloriously wails above the maelstrom, until we reach an oasis of softly chiming guitars and sombre strings. The regret-filled calm continues for a while, but the finale returns us to a rising wall of sound. The lilting and beautiful string-laden love song In This Avalanche is a ray of sunshine in this sometimes sombre album. The largely instrumental Point of Diminishing Return swaggers in rather cinematically with some fascinating shimmering synths midway through. This gives way to a more contemplative section with strings before an almost inevitable later crescendo, a facet of a number of pieces on this album.

One of the main highlights is Monsters, which is restrained and gentle with sweet and vulnerable vocals from Heaton. The drums and rippling guitars fluidly interchange on this languid and gorgeous song… and about those monsters – it turns out they’re in our own heads! Atrophy takes a rather regal tempo, with Heaton’s wonderful voice passionately intoning over an impressionistic wash of sound.

The title song is the longest and most ambitious on Cold Waves Divide Us. Commencing with a gently oscillating keyboard backing, Heaton’s voice swoops and glides in swallow flights of song. The drums and guitars build to a mid-song zenith, transforming into a melodically rhythmic theme over which Heaton’s voice continues to float with grace and feeling… leaving us bereft at the end. Little Wooden Boxes commences gently and vulnerably with echoes of Tori Amos, but gradually builds massively with drums crashing and guitars throbbing darkly – I’m not entirely sure what’s going on lyrically, but it is not full of laughs, that’s for sure. Indeed, one criticism of the album could be that its portentous, dark and often rather sombre atmosphere can seem a little overwhelming at times, but might that just be me not being imbued with the post rock ethos? Mute fades in ominously with Heaton’s fragile voice before the drums become more forceful. It’s a impressive album closer, characteristic of the multi-layered approach which focuses on atmospheres and soundscapes rather than hooks and melodies. The drumming is outstanding under Rowan Burns’ spectral guitars, with Hamilton’s throbbing bass giving sufficient weight and gravity to keep the song earthbound. Midas Fall do indeed seem to have rather a golden touch at times.

Cold Waves Divide Us is a rather different album for me. We are a long way from my comfort zone of melodic progressive rock… but in some ways there are connections in the way these post rock artists ambitiously build sonic pictures with layers of instrumentation.

In the remarkable Cold Waves Divide Us, Midas Fall skilfully present ideas and emotions in beautiful and dramatic sound frameworks, sweeping from loud to soft, dark to light with such smooth grace and controlled power.

01. In the Morning We’ll Be Someone Else (4:09)
02. I Am Wrong (5:12)
03. Salt (5:28)
04. In This Avalanche (4:04)
05. Point of Diminishing Return (5:00)
06. Monsters (4:18)
07. Atrophy (4:01)
08. Cold Waves Divide Us (5:54)
09. Little Wooden Boxes (5:23)
10. Mute (3:41)

Total Time – 47:10

Elizabeth Heaton – Vocals, Guitars, Strings, Synthesisers, Piano, Drums
Rowan Burn – Guitars, Synthesisers, Piano, Drums
Michael Hamilton – Bass, Synthesisers, Drums

Record Label: Monotreme Records
Country of Origin: U.K.
Date of Release: 8th March 2024

– Eleven. Return & Revert (2010)
– Wilderness (2013)
– The Menagerie Inside (2015)
– Evaporate (2018)
– Covers [EP] (2023)
– Cold Waves Divide Us (2024)

Midas Fall – Website | Facebook