Native Construct have delivered one of the best progressive metal albums of the year without a doubt. Quiet World has brilliance in spades and it isn’t afraid to show it in liberal amounts. Whether you’re listening to the charismatic vocal performance, enjoying the varied instrumentals or just appreciating the tightness of the compositions, there’s something on this album for everyone to love. The best part about it, however, is the fact that it’s actually progressive! It does not simply claim the tag only to present you with chugs and ambient backgrounds, but rather it pushes itself continuously throughout its duration and keeps you intrigued until you’re met with sinister silence at the end of the record.
The centerpiece of the album is the twelve and a half minute closer “Chromatic Aberration.” Even after going through thrilling track after thrilling track, this song still manages to smash through expectations and conventions without seeming ham-fisted or lacking meaning. It really is something the band has every right to be incredibly proud of. All of the tracks on the album are worth your time and attention, though. If you care about progressive music and the direction it’s heading in the least, you will listen to this record. Native Construct have raised the bar into space and I find it hard to believe that anyone else will be able to reach it.
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There are very few select cuts of thrash, grind or hardcore on these types of lists because it is difficult to pick a lot of acts in these genres apart. Noisem play the perfect mix of thrash, grind and hardcore. They do. Argue about their definitive subgenre all you want but what is undeniable is this band’s unnerving energy and approach. Blossoming Decay is a veritable barnstormer, from it’s opening serene moments to the final smashed cymbal it is balls out, stapled to the wall angry; the kind of angry that teenage heshers from generations past would be revelling in.
“Cascade Of Scars” is a Slayer classic in a new shell, with a prolonged introduction smashing into the kind of grind goodness that Napalm Death have made famous. “Another Night In The Cold” is most definitely the quintessential Noisem track. If I had just one and a half minutes to showcase this band to someone, that is the track I would show them. Bursting with abrasive riffs, vocals and percussion, the hostility delivered is carefully constrained and pointed at an exact target – me and you. Blossoming Decay is the one stop shop for those craving an urgent fix of fuck off.
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Periphery told us in our interview with them a few months ago that the Juggernaut double album was originally supposed to be the band’s first release but has been on the backburner for over seven years. Now that it’s out, that statement makes complete sense. The 80-minute Alpha/Omega assault is freakin’ massive and shows the band pushing their progressive metal sound to previously unexplored avenues, all while perfecting their groove-centric riffs that got them to the top of the heap in the first place. Spencer Sotelo unquestionably delivers his best vocal performance to date and no longer feels like a late addition to the band’s style; instead, he’s calling the shots now. Songs can range from the radio-friendly choruses of “Heavy Heart,” the classic Periphery bounce of “The Bad Thing,” the progressive soundscapes of “Omega,” or “Hell Below’s” uncomfortably crushing collapse.
Everything sounds crystal clear throughout thanks to bassist Nolly Getgood’s impeccable production and helps showcase the band’s complete vision and control over the project as well. At this point, labelling this band as “djent” just seems like a disservice to what Periphery is really bringing to the table. This is the progressive metal album to get your hands on this year. Now if only the band would finally come forward and reveal what the story behind the lyrics truly is all about!
Few bands are truly pushing extreme metal to its absolute limit right now, and Brooklyn’s Pyrrhon are doing just that. Growth Without End is a perfect litmus test for new listeners, as its five songs lay waste to the listener’s unsuspecting ears with a barrage of unrelenting technicality, swirling dissonance and more time signatures than even the geekiest group in just under 15 minutes. Caught somewhere between death metal, grindcore, and even at times avant-garde, it’s a claustrophobic sound that begins to unfold with repeated listens (to those even willing to attempt it a second time). And even with all this in mind, things never collapse into complete chaos; everything here is incredibly well thought out and nuanced. “Cancer Mantra” shows Pyrrhon even introducing hooks to their sound, albeit in their own twisted and terrifying way. There’s still a great sense of musicianship and songwriting prowess throughout all the clutter, which is certainly something to be commended. Fans of metal who are really looking to see how intense and insane the genre can get in 2015 needn’t look any further than right here.
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Who says instrumental metal is boring? Clearly they have not given the sophomore album from Brooklyn experimenters Sannhet a listen. Revisionist has all the ferocity and dynamism of the best that many forms of extreme metal have to offer but boiled down to their most essential instrumental elements. The trio manage to take the mastery of other post-metal bands like Russian Circles and ISIS and turn the intensity dial all the damn way up. So much of that has to do with the sheer wall of percussive noise that is drummer Christopher Todd, who doesn’t so much keep a beat as play one fill after another.
The true success of Revisionist doesn’t come from their ability to just be louder than your standard post-metal band though. It’s in their unique infusion of the language of post-metal with elements of black metal and other lighter and emotionally-tinged influences. The band largely discards the oft-treaded tropes of post-rock in their gradual crescendos and false climaxes by stripping their compositions down to their barest and primal elements. Also, their live shows, usually accompanied by intricately-designed and triggered projections, are just unbelievably tight and thrilling (we have the video to prove it). Revisionist is easily one of the best instrumental metal records in recent memory, and it should easily attract fans both of the genre as well as its skeptics.
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