Progressive death metal is known for painting with an epic and broad brushstroke. This can create fantastic albums and bloated messes both; there needs to be a clear direction and purpose to the scale, otherwise the music runs together and nothing of much worth is achieved. Luckily, the Australian Kaerulean have an intricate concept behind their Metempsychosis, a concept which lends the album some much needed cohesion. Spanning influences like Opeth, Between the Buried and Me and more operatic sounds like Dark Tranquillity, the death metal on this album is intricate, synth-heavy and concept-heavy. If you like ever-shifting time signatures, intricately written guitar leads and complex orchestration head on down below!
“Regression” is a good track to discuss since it has all the elements of the album present and willing. First of all, you’ll notice the very audible synths. Unlike their fellows in the genre, Kaerulean approach synths as a very prominent backing role. Their grandiose chords dictate the direction of the track, acting as canvas and conductor both. They move between extremely electronic tones to more classical hammonds, adjusting themselves to the atmosphere required. So too the bass, always balancing between groove and complexity. It’s always working in the background but often jumps into the fore where more space and size of delivery is needed. It benefits from a prominent place in the mix, holding its own with the rest of the instruments. While the production might lack some finesse, it does a good job of bringing everything that’s happening to the fore and giving the listener the choice of focus. The vocals, guitar and drums work as one unit, encompassing the heavier sounds on the album. The following track, “Labyrinth”, is a good example of that as it features some of the heavier and more impressive vocals on the album.
Overall, this is a super promising sophomore release from a band which deserves more recognition. None of what they do is strictly groundbreaking but honestly, that’s not a bad thing. There’s a consistency to their work which does much to mitigate how overwhelming the album could have been at parts. By focusing on solid composition and execution, Kaerulean are able to bring their ambitious and challenging ideas to fruition in a pleasing way, dodging the sins of over articulation and over exaggeration. Give Metempsychosis a full listen and you won’t regret; there’s much hiding beneath the surface to be discovered.