BioAlan Sparhawk rarely uses foul language, preferring the less alarming modifier "stinkin'" to a more common, sharper word that begins with an F. Mimi Parker swears even less often, and since she provides the otherworldly female voice in Low's songs, that fact might prevent fans from getting a potentially jarring shock. Zak Sally, the poker-faced backbone, couldn't be described as chatty-nor would he want to be. For a decade now, the trio has been building music that rewards listeners that meet it halfway—unassuming, often quiet, slow songs that reveal the world when paid the close attention they deserve.
The idea, all that time ago, was to play as slowly and quietly as possible, but over ten years and seven albums Low has evolved from the lonely, reverb-drenched debut album that, confusingly, found them fans in Goth circles (I Could Live In Hope) to a heart-wrenchingly sad, naked album with a 15-minute burst of noise (The Curtain Hits The Cast) to a breathtaking trio of full-lengths (Secret Name, Thing We Lost in the Fire, and Trust) for Chicago indie-label Kranky on which they broke their own early rules by flirting with lushness, with loudness, and with more traditional (read: quicker) song structure. Throughout that evolution, Low never made what could be called, even by the loosest standards, a Rock Record. But if Sparhawk, as the de facto spokesman, were the type to get terse with invisible critics or people who dismiss Low as some kind of one-note slowcore band, he might say of his band's seventh album (and first for Sub Pop) The Great Destroyer, "You want a rock record? Here's your stinkin' rock record."
He wouldn't be entirely right-this is still a Low album, and shares almost nothing musically with The Great Destroyer by Boston-based black metal band Cruelty Divine. But it is without a doubt Low's most brisk album yet, and shifts moods so effortlessly and so often that it could throw longtime fans for a neck-spinning loop. The band that once spent an inordinate amount of time making sure their live vocals were sufficiently echoey (for maximum slow-mo effect) have traveled to their own version of a "fast" album which, while still decidedly snail-like compared to, say, Slayer, is no less passionate. Check out this lyric, from "Just Stand Back": "It's a hit / It's got soul / Steal the show / With your rock 'n' roll." Take that, sadcore.