What is it exactly about instrumental, progressive music that seems to appeal to us more when we’re younger? Everywhere I look, I see people who used to be really into progressive metal and, specifically, the instrumental kind but no longer are. Personally, I can say that something about the flamboyance and narcissism which seem to infect most of the genre just got very old, very fast for me and, once I had heard plenty of guitar players play really fast, the genre outgrew its welcome for me.
But, somewhat perversely, I still look for some good that’s left in the genre, good which is usually found when the genre is injected with a fair dose of atmosphere and a darker mood. Lo and behold, Crevassian have arrived to give me just that! While their self-titled EP, released this year, is not their debut, it’s the first I’ve heard of them and I was immediately intrigued by it. More specifically, what first caught my ear was how loud and rich the bass guitar was. Not only am I sucker for that kind of production but it’s almost unheard of in the genre; bass guitars are infamously buried in the mix of many progressive bands, robbed of their space in the sun by the emphasis on electric guitar and their showmanship.
Here, however, the bass guitars fill an important role; listen to second track “Firmament” and how the bass chugs right alongside the backing electric guitar tracks, filling the sound with new tones and ideas “around” the rest of the instrumentation. This lends the track a fullness that run in direct opposition to how flimsy and insubstantial the genre can often sound, lost in a million guitar notes and shreds. Here, following the bass guitar, the numerous electric guitar tracks are more reined in, serving the track’s overall consistency in a way which channels post metal favorites like Telepathy or If These Trees Could Talk. That latter comparison becomes perhaps even more fruitful by the time delay effects are added to the guitars and the track dives head first into its moody tint.
On “Summit”, the close to ten minute closing track of the EP, these ideas are stretched out to even further heights. Here, the drums rise to give yet another facet to the paths laid out by the bass; listen to the quiet passage near the six minute mark and how the drums and the bass interact to almost conjure the track back from an abyss, slowly rising with brilliant cymbal work and fills to repossess our ears with groove and momentum. These clever articulations on what makes progressive metal work, coupled with an undeniable mood and presence, is what makes Crevassian’s self-titled EP work where so many others fail; every passage derives itself from a solid core, run by the engine of the bass guitar. The other parts of the band, not secondary but complementary, construct themselves around this stable center, allowing them to fly off into extravagance at times without losing connection with where the track, and the album, are going. The result is cohesive, mature, and self-aware progressive metal that, nonetheless, manages to impress and fascinate the listener.
Crevassian is available now can be purchased via the Bandcamp link above.