This album missed my radar, but a reader pointed me to it. It is maybe the most reviewed album I’ve reviewed all year.
Let’s take the first track, because it already contains so many elements that I’m not even sure how to classify it. We start off with some proggy technical noodling. They break with the prog norm a bit here to keep it interesting. First off, it is fast and relentless. Second, there is almost no arpeggiation which has become the cliche thing to do. Instead they ornament around the chord structure with some more classical chromatic gruppettos and mordents among other things.
Pretty quickly we move on to something that sounds like a punk/mathcore fusion. For grooving so well, the underlying rhythmic complexity is astounding. The first few times through I was enjoying the overall experience of how it fit together. Now that I’m listening for details, I have no idea how they made this work.
After a few verse/chorus repeats (in which we get a nice recapitulation of the opening idea) we enter a sort of bridge. This section is really pretty and reminds me of the softer side of Animals as Leaders or CHON or whoever. The technical idea is firmly rooted to that beginning section, so it turns out that what we thought of as noodling at the beginning was actually establishing an idea that would tie the whole thing together.
After that we get to a purely symphonic section which somehow seamlessly transitions into electronica a la Aphex Twin. I actually find this last transition to be quite successful. I’ve always wanted to hear a really good electronica/prog metal fusion. This isn’t it, because the two sections are completely separate, but it gives me hope that in the future we will hear this from them (I find Born of Osiris and The Algorithm to be unsuccessful attempts at it).
Now you get a feel for what I’m up against in trying to describe this album. I think this first track is notably varied in comparison to the rest. It just gives a taste of what is to come. Each individual later track is very different from the surrounding ones, but they tend to be much more unified in style.
Despite the technical playing, complexity, and sometimes dissonant parts, this is an album that is meant to be enjoyed. Most of the album is quite easy on the ears. In some sense, if you get caught up in their technique or think that it is some super deep thing, then they’ve failed. It is playful and fun at times and isn’t meant to be taken too seriously. It has some nu-metalish and alt rock-ish parts. The chord progressions can be a bit pop-like.
Overall I’ve thoroughly enjoyed listening to this album which means they were successful. The technical aspects and surprising change-ups are what make it interesting. They could have written the same album with that stuff stripped out and it would be a straightforward pop-metal album. That would have been boring and I wouldn’t even be reviewing it. This tells me these techniques are a necessary component to this type of album. On the other hand, it is almost never noticeably intrusive (except on track 1) which tells me they struck the right balance and didn’t go overboard with it.
I can’t really predict how much I’m going to come back to this. My guess is that it is a bit too easy for it to have a really lasting return value. For awhile, it will probably be my go-to album when I’m in the mood for this type of thing. For now, I’m going to give it an 8/10. I’ll issue a correction and revise this number upwards if in a few months I’m still coming back to it. Here’s a sample: