The trick to super groups is letting each member express his own approach to music and display his own skill set. The trick to modern progressive metal is to realize that the age of shredding and “gotta go fast” approach is fast fading from overuse. When you take these two tricks and mix them together, displaying the perfect example of how to provide the realization of both, you get Escape the Cult. The guest list is impressive: creator Peter Shallmin from Kamlath, Tim Alexander of Primus fame, guitar wizard Mike Wead of King Diamond and none other than the unique Matthieu Romarin of Uneven Structures. More impressive than the list though is the album itself: an engaging and masterful aural merging of all this astonishing talent into one cohesive whole.
The first thing that jumps to the ear, is the interesting choices made in the mix. Romarin has one of the most distinct voices in metal today, perhaps comparable only to Maynard Keenan in how down right a-typical it is. The right choice was made when handling it: it’s given front and center place, crowning over the rest of the music. It becomes deceptive then, as the ear is immediately drawn to him whenever he’s present. But that would be a dire mistake: behind the vocals operates an approach to progressive music that is enchanting: instead of relying on blatant technicality, groove and hooks hold the day, carrying the album forward.
The trio in the instruments blends smoothly with each other. With Shallmin often dictating the beat alongside Alexander’s drums, Wead is released to interpret it in his own unique manner. This frees him to make some truly interesting sounds, balanced on the blade’s edge between riffs and leads. Nor is Shallmin once mentioned and then forgotten: his work on the bass here is paramount to the feeling of energy and youth that is prevalent throughout the entire album. And what more needs to be said than Tim Alexander? The command this veteran brings to the drum set always leaves one in awe, juggling simplicity when its needed and ear-bending complexity when the situation calls for it.
Perhaps the icing on this cake is the composition and lyricism of the album. Each track is special, with its own voice and message. From the closest thing to a classic progressive track in ‘I’m Absolute’, with its thrilling vocal lines and guitar, to the Tool-like modernity of closer “Where No Grown Up Grapes’, everything just smacks of pleasure in music and writing. The apex moment of this album however is without a doubt ‘Feel the Flight’, a track so groovy one finds dancing hard to resist. This groove is fueled by an interesting addition: the guitars are recorded on a double track, with one carrying the main riff of the track and the other strumming small additions and embellishments in the background.
All You Want To is a joy to the ear. It’s layered without being tiresome, technically impressive without being self obsessed and contemporary without being rehashed. At the end of the day, the engine that makes it tick is the talent and love poured into it during composition and recording. We all knew these musicians are proficient, no further reminder was necessary. What Escape the Cult remind us is that they are artists, capable of imbuing their music with vitality and veracity.
Escape the Cult’s All You Want To gets…