coverFormed in Kristiansand, Norway back in 2012 when all its members were studying at the University of Agder, Rendezvous Point are set to release their debut offering with some serious buzz about them. Featuring members who have been involved with Borknagar, ICS Vortex and Solefald and currently about to tour Europe in support of Leprous, the progressive five piece look to have a bright future ahead of them. Without further ado, let’s crack on with it.

There are many bands who try to create a surreal and captivating sonic landscape within their albums. Some try and pull it off rather well whilst others fail atrociously at it, not managing to grasp the right mix of ambience, samples, build, timing, phrasing and other important elements which help give a track a life of its own. Thankfully this is not the case with Rendezvous Point. The opening track, “Through The Solar Storm” has an ominous feel to it, created by eerie sounding samples which kick into a heavily distorted rhythm accompanied by a sinister sounding lead melody. This feel and mood carries on for the duration of the album and along with the complex polyrhythmic approaches and powerful and clean vocals, it creates a dark feel which is both heavy and hauntingly melodic.

Musically, the release focuses more on the collective result than individual brilliance. There are little spells where one instrument will gain more prominence than the others, but for the lack of solos, something often associated with progressive metal, it is more about the rhythmic work and soundscape created at play. Using atonal and dissonant sounding guitars in play with complex drum patterns and synths and bass which provide that extra edge to round it out, it makes clever use of dynamics and the vocals to dictate the feel and heaviness of the sound, a trick which is hard to pull off but is executed brilliantly in all the tracks of the album, most notably in “Para”.

The standout track though on the album is the 10 minute epic “Mirrors” which builds from slow and subtle ambience to a heavy pseudo-Meshuggah meets Tool like rhythm but without the abuse of the low register open string in odd time signatures to create the riffs. With all its rhythmic intricacies creating a current which persists throughout the track, it is the vocals and synths which really give this track its identity. Softly delivered to fully belted out, never once going harsh and always staying fully emotive, the vocals act as a lead line all of themselves whilst the synths just add that erratic touch at times to keep you guessing what is coming next.

One criticism of the album is that there is a distinct lack of extravagance, the very thing which progressive metal is renowned for, but on the same hand, can this actually be a criticism when it makes a refreshing change of pace compared to the majority of other bands in this genre? Overall, depending on which way you look at it, this is a fantastic progressive metal album which focuses more on the overall delivery rather than the individual tracks or it is a lacklustre but intriguing debut album from a band who have a very bright future if they continue to work on their sound.

Personally, I’m in the first school of thought. “Through The Solar Storm” is a fantastic album which is captivating and brilliant in its own right. Sure, it might be minimal on the virtuoso performances, but does it need them when it has such a well rounded sound and does more with the rhythm and pulse of the song than a technically sublime, extended, rapid stream of alternately picked and fluidly executed sweep-picked arpeggios in a 40 second long solo? My answer – No.

Get this album, Rendezvous Point can only get stronger and with their darker edge, they might just become one of the big names in progressive metal over the next few years.

(8.5/10 Fraggle)