I’m not sure when my last prog metal purchase was on Amazon, so it seems kind of weird that they recommended this band to me, but wow they got something right. I’ve been in a bit of a funk lately and nothing has really made me that excited about music. Pomegranate Tiger has gotten me back into the groove. Literally.
With bandcamp and facebook, it is getting harder to track down specifics of band history (in the sense that bands seem to be skipping the webpage idea where things are actually written about the band). As far as I can tell this is a “new” band with Entities being their first release as of January 2013. Though their bandcamp says they’ve been around since 2010.
Let’s start with the basics. At its core I’d call them a prog metal band. You get your chromatic arpeggiation and interesting time signatures like 7/8. There’s some djenty stuff thrown in. You have your parts that are similar in sound to Between the Buried and Me, but I’d say the closest comparison to something I’ve heard is Animals as Leaders. That might just be the fact that they are purely instrumental clouding my judgement.
Let me just say that these guys are one heck of a tight band. They all play their instruments incredibly well. There are some flashy bits, but that’s not what I like best. Really. Even when it isn’t some virtuoso passage, there is great precision and groove with what they are putting out. They don’t fall into the trap that many prog metal bands fall into by trying to smash a bunch of technical licks together.
Instead, they actually write the songs as an artist would. If there’s technique, then there’s technique. If the music doesn’t call for a technical lick, then it’s left out. I’m going to say it. This band knows how to write. It’s not just that they know how to write songs. What is done on this album is what we like to call composing music.
There is such great variety on this album. Some songs are 6 or 10 minutes long and never get boring. There is always something interesting to keep your attention. Some songs are super heavy. One track is pure piano. One track is accoustic guitar + string quartet + light percussion. I mean, come on, if you had any doubt they knew how to compose well for many different settings and styles they dare you to say otherwise.
To me the most successful track is the truly epic 10 minute track New Breed. It alternates between gorgeous soundscapes and highly rhythmic intensity. Sometimes it rams the two together to get great places to just rock out for awhile. There is some really interesting and tasteful electronica thrown in as well. It’s almost as if Aphex Twin stole the track, but they stole it back before he could do too much with it, and then they left it like that.
Here’s a note that all people aspiring to play/write this style of music should take to heart. Patterns are great when carefully constructed to work well with the song. Some bands might take something too basic and then the repetition is uninteresting and boring. Some people might try to be too random and sporadic with the pattern. Honestly, this is just as boring because everyone can tell that in an attempt to be “original” you put no actual effort into a good construction.
This band nails the technique on the head. They use interesting time signatures, but never let it detract from what they’re doing by randomly changing the time all over the place. They use patterns that are interesting by not making them fit perfectly with the time signature. The technique actually has a name: hemiola. This again re-emphasizes that these guys are either super lucky or actually know what they’re doing when it comes to composing music.
The other standout track is the collection Ocean I, II, III. These again are not only greatly entertaining, moving pieces to listen to, but the composition is clearly very deliberate and well-done. Another technique from the composition world is called ostinato. Ocean-III. The Golden Portal is a song all bands should study to learn how to correctly use the technique.
I could go on forever, but there just isn’t room here (who am I kidding?, this is the internet!). One last bit of amazing: the second to last track Sign of Ruin has one of the sickest guitar solos I’ve heard where this amazing textural pattern gets riffing and then it splits into thirds (which I assume was two people or recorded separately, but this doesn’t change how freakin’ awesome it is). The track is probably their most complicated with a lot of very interesting tonality and difficult, precise guitar work going on.
Overall, I’m going to give the album a 9/10. This is only because there are a few parts of a few songs that I’m not totally into. This is hands down album of the year so far for me. I’ll give a sample, but this album has so much variation to it I would check the whole thing (particularly tracks 8, 9, 10, 11) out before making any decisions on it: