Atmospheric and heavy, Strength And Sanity is a one-man band creating lush post-metal. Justin Almquist creates brooding, dark textures intermixing prog, jazz, and metal throughout his self-titled disc. The standouts are the lengthier tracks, one occurring at the midpoint and the other at the end of the record. The former, “Lines, Unfolded, Began Forward,” is a slow burn using a surprisingly menacing sense of dynamics and rhythm to build tension and then resolving into a soft, plucked acoustic guitar figure. Similarly, the latter, “Other Paths,” brings Almquist’s myriad of ideas together in a coherent, self-contained epic.
The record can get tedious with an over-reliance on canned strings and drums. Though the programming quality is still impressive, the strings come across as sappy at points, while the drums lack the thrill that one hears from a live recording. Overall, it’s pretty accomplished for a solo project, but the record could be a little tighter, and some moments are more ponderous than necessary. In the end, the two lengthy tracks show a feel for nuance and texture that resonates.