Structurally inventive and creative with time, ‘Unrest’, the new full-length from Swiss act Promethee, is a formidable display of modern progressive metal. Meshuggah-esque rhythms and patterns dominate the first few tracks; the performance a precise and capable nod to the Swedes. Occasional flashes of technical skill offer a glimpse at the level of musicianship Promethee possess but don’t exploit; intentionally maintaining a balance between groove and intricacy.
‘Unrest’ has a powerful atmosphere created through the style of their riffs, as well as the atmospheric drones and whines going on low in the mix. Occasional half-time drums give some songs a very slight hardcore lean, although you wouldn’t call Promethee a hardcore band. Similarly, off-beats, trem picking and double pedal that hint of a thrash influence, wouldn’t alter their genre to include thrash.
Stand out track ‘Broken Structures’ has movement and pace akin to a more American sound, reminding me slightly of Lamb Of God, and features an effortless odd time breakdown just long enough to catch attention before Promethee unveil the next riff. Which is something this album is full of; short, attention grabbing sections that keep you listening, holding on in anticipation of truly great moments that don’t quite appear.
I feel like Promethee are working and writing within their comfort zone, lacking that little bit of danger ‘Unrest’ needs to be really, really good. Part of this can be contributed to the production which, while very nice, is clean enough to sparkle. Metal shouldn’t sparkle; metal has an edge, some grit. It can be polished, yes, but if it’s polished too clean it loses the dirt that made it metal in the first place.
The guitar tone can be fatiguing even half way through the album, as can the vocals; which remain in a similar register, rarely deviating from a perfect mid-range yell throughout, and as such ‘Unrest’ sounds more repetitive than it actually is. Everything is so consistent; the character, anger, passion and desperation I know is there, has been masked by the production. Promethee live on stage would be more impressive than this recording suggests.
‘Unrest gets better after the piano break at the end of ‘The Sour Taste’, the excellent ‘Vacant’ providing welcome variation, but it is my feeling that they could have easily cut two or three songs. ‘Inert And Bound’; a labour of riffs that feel like they’ve already been heard, and ‘Echoes Of The Universe’; an indulgent seven minute finale. Not that these songs are bad on their own, they just don’t add anything new to the overall experience.
Promethee are a very good band and with ‘Unrest’ they have a collection of really heavy, interesting songs that have fallen just short of realising their potential as an album. If they can capture a more expressive sound, they would be up there with the best.
(7/10 Kane Power)