Berlin ensemble the History of Colour TV return with another darkly textured and obscurely titled album brimming with moody ambience and waves of heavy riffing. If 2012's Emerald Cures Chic Ills was their full-on shoegaze assault, then When Shapes of Spilt Blood Spelt Love is its more sparsely arranged and purposefully rock-oriented sibling. The first album served up a fiery mass of shimmering guitars whose Wall of Sound certainly owed a debt to shoegaze pioneers like Slowdive and My Bloody Valentine. Its glassy attack bore more of the experimental nature of band mastermind Jaike Stambach's earlier instrumental solo work. Their second attempt is still rife with shimmering synths and layers of effects, but the songs are more structured and arranged than before. Melodic standouts like "Left" and "Yr Arms Can Stretch" see a shift in focus toward stronger songcraft and more dynamic pacing. There is a noticeable move to strip away some of the clutter, and the resulting subtlety allows a more languid track like "I See Skull" to breathe while its solo sections still dip and dive wildly. But even as their softer side reveals itself, there is a newfound heaviness on songs like "Enter on Ash" and "Shapes," with guitar tones that are more sludge metal than shoegaze. Even the drumming has taken a slightly different approach on several songs with slow, cymbal-less patterns that augment dreamy mood pieces the way the Cure did on Disintegration. It's an interesting mix and shows that the band is willing to rearrange themselves, altering various elements to further evolve and grow.
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AllMusic Review by Timothy Monger