Native Construct: Quiet World

download

Artist: Native Construct

Album: Quiet World


Background

Native Construct is a five piece progressive metal band based out of Boston, Massachusetts. The group came together during 2011 at the infamous Berklee College of Music where the classically trained members began writing and recording their debut album, Quiet World. Released in 2015 under Metal Blade Records, Quiet World received an overwhelming amount of attention over the internet and rave reviews from progressive enthusiasts.

The Album

Quiet World comprises of seven tracks ranging from two minutes to thirteen minutes in length. Although the album offers fewer songs than a traditional LP, it clocks in at forty-eight minutes and makes the most of each and every second. Don’t allow the number of tracks deceive you. Native Construct packs more into a single song than most bands can do in a full length album

The album begins with its title track which encompasses everything that you need to know about this band. This six minute and twenty-one second epic ventures in and out of nearly every musical genre that you can think of. “Quiet World” even goes out of its way to slow the song’s tempo down to a near crawl and transport the listener to a smokey jazz bar featuring the vocal harmonies of legendary groups such as Queen and the Bee Gee’s. Despite the lush vocals and layering during this and similar sections, the track “Quiet World” showcases the band’s full musical capabilities through an array of down-tuned rhythm progressions and face melting guitar leads.

Native Construct isn’t just a metal/jazz outfit, however. Tracks such as “The Spark of the Archon,” “Passage,” and “Your Familiar Face” all showcase a more melodic side of the group’s abilities. Certain sections of these tracks even pay homage classical sound of operatic and theatrical vocals which pair well against the strings and horns brought in to fill the space. Although not as memorable as the album’s title track, these songs are at the core of the group’s stylistic approach. They are all unique in their own way, but also fit perfectly beside each other on the album.

“Come Hell of High Water” is a literal incarnation of Beethoven or Bach spliced with Between the Buried and Me. The band blends beautiful classical elements and the gritty technical aspects of well thought out progressive metal effortlessly. The track is big, bold, and on a scale unmatched in today’s music scene. Droning horns, a thick string section, theatrical vocals, and a cinematic conclusion, the track has it all.

The tracks “Chromatic Lights” and “Chromatic Aberration” bring the album to its end with nearly fifteen minutes of unapologetic progressive misdirection. Everything from soft piano, to mind-boggling time signatures are present in these final songs.

An angelic vocal performance supported by charming keyboards and strings are featured roughly halfway through “Chromatic Lights.” This section gives the listener a chance to embrace the rich vocals and emotional lyrics before seamlessly transitioning into a funky bass line and thick layers of synthesizers.  More times than not, synth parts are added to a song only to fill space or replace the redundancy of distorted guitars. Native Construct, however, uses them to create a heavenly atmosphere before heading straight into complete and under doom metal with choppy guitar rhythms and a variety of percussive instruments.

The final minute of the album is something straight of the depths of Hell itself. Chugging guitar riffs, guttural vocals and powerful drums bring the album to a conclusion leaving the listener hopeful for just one more song.

Final Thoughts

Quiet World is simply a masterpiece. The musicianship is impeccable. The song crafting and writing in inspiring and jaw dropping. The use of so many different instruments and vocal approaches makes you wonder if the band was actually recording with a full sized symphony orchestra.

Native Construct has shown the music world what progressive song writing is capable of. To think that Quiet World is only the band’s debut album and that there is potentially more to come is both unbelievable and overwhelmingly exciting. To put it bluntly, Native Construct has made their mark on the metal scene with an absolutely perfect album.

Brother Mountain Score: 10/10


Polyphia: Renaissance

download

Artist: Polyphia

Album: Renaissance

Background

Dallas, Texas instrumental progressive metal band Polyphia has been gradually gaining a buzz throughout the music world over the past few years. Their 2016 sophomore release, Renaissance, via Equal Vision marks the culmination of defining and redefining their sound through various EP’s and singles. Although progressive metal in nature, Renaissance injects pop oriented melodies and approachable song writing qualities which make this album one of more interesting releases of the year.

The Album

The greatest hurdle progressive/metal music faces is the perception that technically proficient musicianship is not entirely approachable. Polyphia has been a pioneer in the revival of melodic metal music and has put their own stamp on the progressive scene with a blend of catchy pop melodies and surprising rhythms.

Contrary to the band’s previous releases, Renaissance focuses heavily on a variety of ambient space within its tracks. This space gives the guitars a lot of room to explore the pop/r&b inspired melodies. Some track where the band’s new found pop roots are most obvious are “Crush,” “Euphoria,” and “Culture Shock.” The three tracks stand out above the rest due to their catchy, almost radio friendly, melodies which present the listener with the rare opportunity to sing along to an instrumental record.

Despite the band’s emphasis being placed on characteristics usually found in pop music, the album’s backbone lies in its progressive rhythms and virtuoso guitar writing. Guitarists Tim Henson and Scott LePage contribute some of the most well thought out phrases and patterns that they have ever recorded. The bass lines from Clay Gober not only provide a strong rhythm section, but they also breathe new life into each song, separating themselves from the over used “follow the guitars” method that many bassists present.

Unfortunately, Renaissance does have its fair share of short comings. Although the obvious attempt to infuse pop elements into this album pushes the group’s ability to write catchy melodies to a whole new territory, their efforts also left behind some of the elements which made their earlier releases so memorable. Polyphia started as a unapologetic progressive metal band who would showcase innovative lead guitars and inspiring solos. The band featured an array of breakdowns and rhythm guitar sections in odd time signatures which displayed the band’s precision and ability to play deep in the pocket. Renaissance loses a bit of the metal edge that its predecessors exemplified. The abundance of pop inspired melodies gives many tracks a similar feel which makes portions of the album a redundant feeling. This is the risk band’s take when aspiring for a more radio friendly sound.

Final Thoughts

Renaissance does a lot of things effectively and is a standout in the progressive metal world. Polyphia has found a way to incorporate the catchy pop melodies and song structures that we all enjoy turning up on our car’s stereo with the windows down. The band continues to innovate and push the envelope in terms of what we believe metal music can be. This is definitely an album worth checking out and keeping a close eye on this young band as they move forward.

Brother Mountain Score: 8/10