2014 is now “last year”. Let that sink in as we get our schedules restarted and refueled for the year to come. It was impossible to expect anyone to encompass every single release during 2014, a crazy year for metal where every day seemed to push the bar a little higher. During the inevitable rush of posts, some albums got lost along the way. We’ll be doing our best to correct the error and present to you over the coming few weeks reviews for albums that we missed. Who cares if they’re “so last year”? Some of them are simply brilliant and no better example exists than Rishloo‘s Living As Ghosts With Buildings As Teeth. As far as progressive metal goes, it came along right at the end of the year in order to smash all expectations and standards.
At the core of this album lies a certain expansive sound, an almost cabaret and theatrical canvas which lends it an inescapable grandness. Parts of it, especially in the vocals department, sound like something that was spawned in the 80’s, in the best possible meaning of the word. Indeed, in some of the rhythm choices and winks towards classic rock, this album has a lot of Queen in it, once again mostly present in the vocals and their positioning in relation to the other instruments. However, Rishloo aren’t afraid to play around with this basic structure and it really shows: the album doesn’t really follow one pattern and each track is as varied as the next.
The album’s complexity lies not only in varying structures but also in the other elements introduced to the basic “epic rock a la Queen” formula. The comparison to The Mars Volta is inescapable but two interesting aspects of it might warrant attention beyond hailing the vocals again. The approach to the guitar as an ambient instrument, often being used as a mood setter rather than a main line for the track, is wholly reminiscent of Deloused In the Comatorium. The second aspect are the lyrics; like The Mars Volta’s opus magnum, this is not a concept album but there are shared themes and aesthetic to the different tracks. Allusions to water, decrepit technology and cyber-punkesque decay abound throughout the album. Coupled with a certain progressive tinge to the music, this allows the album to be more than its parts, a story of being lost in modernity and frustration.
A lesser band might have bowed in the face of these complex themes, preferring to keep the music on one track in order to more easily navigate the larger themes at hand. However, Rishloo have risen up to their own challenge, establishing the music in competition to the intricate themes. Softer passages are almost always echoes of other parts of the song, the more frantic parts aren’t chaotic just for the sake of chaos and the production is impeccable. All of the above blends to create a truly progressive album which also speaks to the listener, enlisting us in the effort of invoking emotions. One finds himself singing along while still appreciating the complexity that lives in the instrument and orienting himself in the larger, thematic universe the album creates. In short, it kicks and it caresses, it’s epic and subtle and it’s powerful and elegant. It’s damn good.
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Rishloo’s Living As Ghosts With Buildings As Teeth gets…