If you're looking for your modern metal to sound more like a medley than any singular style, MAKE's Trephine isn't made for you. At a time when black metal is bleeding into modern composition and when impasses between death metal, grindcore, noise and stoner rock are collapsing into rigorously postmodern sprawls, though, there's something refreshing about a band that knows exactly how it wants to sound. MAKE is a marching, mid-tempo metal band, trudging diligently and delightfully around the intersection of doom and drone, like Saint Vitus slowed, emboldened and darkened by young art-school students draped in black, philosophy books tucked under their arms.
Across Trephine's hour, MAKE hits its stride relentlessly and without error. They combine patience, as with the graceful ascent of the long instrumental "Valhalla," with perfect, attention-span-sized pacing, as on the paradoxically compact anthem "Rotting Palace." Although Trephine is the trio's full-length debut, they've taken care to carve and care for their elemental tone, a thick but fluid distillation of crunching guitar, roiling bass and stomping drums that suggests Oregon's excellent Yob. They occasionally augment that sound by adding a luminous guitar line that wafts around the din, or a violin that does the same; elsewhere, as on the blown-out doom-dub of interludes like "After the Dust Settles," they abandon it completely. Those kinds of changes simply underscore the craft and competence of what they do elsewhere—take a well-trod form and make it feel fresh again, without any great attempt at innovation.
That renewable vitality serves as a copasetic counterpoint for the album thematically. A case study in living through futility and fighting against hopelessness, Trephine is an oppressive tale where time collapses and the sun decays. The trails these three make, though, are enough to fight against those feelings, to pull even the most embattled protagonist back into some kind of light. This is a perfect start for a welcome young band.