Melancholy tends to be a familiar emotional port of call for the post-metal sub-genre. The combination of hypnotic, atmospheric sonic textures with a focus on emotional introspection leads many groups of this ilk down a wonderfully morose path. Lithuania’s Autism – Have You Found Peace? leans heavily into that gloom, delivering a concept album exploring childhood trauma, guilt, loss, and damaged relationships.
Have You Found Peace? tells the story of two teenagers, Nolan and an unnamed narrator. The boys are involved in a horrific accident after stealing a car from Nolan’s alcoholic father. While both survive, Nolan sustains life-altering injuries, and the subsequent emotional scars tear their relationship apart. Nolan’s friend attempts to reconnect through a series of unrequited letters, only to discover that Nolan had disappeared without a trace shortly after the accident.
As Autism are an instrumental act, the above narrative is driven primarily through passages of narration delivered by guest vocalist Krzysztof Traczyk of Polish post-black metal group ROSK, who begins recounting the tale during the album’s excellent, dark ambient intro “Rememorari.” The track’s unsettling synth and drone work, supplied by Mateusz Szymański (also from ROSK) creates a palpable sense of dread and claustrophobia. The ambient murk trails off into the the subtle guitar refrain of “No Words,” which fairly quickly transitions into the album’s heaviest and most aggressive passage with Traczzyk trading in soft, spoken-word for some satisfyingly guttural growling. The whole section is reminiscent of Salvation-era Cult of Luna.
Unfortunately, Have You Found Peace? drags a touch in its midsection. While the members of Autism are clearly accomplished players, sections in “Tremorous Luminance” and “Haunting Recollections” would feel interchangeable if not for the additional instrumentation provided by various guest musicians. While there are indeed heavier and lighter moments, the overall dynamic range is limited, and as such the songs lack the sort of emotional sledgehammering that bands like Neurosis and Amenra deliver through deft use of tension and release. Traczyk’s sporadic narration does add a unique, cinematic quality to the album, but the matter-of-fact, earnest way in which he relates the tale feels somewhat jarring. A more poetic approach, where the the overarching narrative was simply hinted at or described through analogy, would have been a more effective approach.
All that said, there are some moments of true, cathartic beauty on Have You Found Peace? The saxophone section in “Haunting Reflections,” for example, soars and demonstrate Autism’s ability to integrate unique sonic timbres into heavy music without sounding gimmicky.
As Autism hail from Vilnius, I would not be able to end this review without making reference to the greatest movie in the history of cinema. As such, Captain Ramius gives Have You Found Peace? six-and-a-half sonar pings out of a possible ten.
Written by Jesse Gainer
*edited by Kate Erickson