When you get a press release which states that a progressive metal band has a huge host of diverse influences which contribute to making the band sound unique/individual/unheard of, it is like a red flag; it’s a trope many people use to try and put a positive spin on something which 9 times out of 10 is the type of thing which is commonplace in the vast sea of mediocrity which makes up the majority of most genres. It is the type of album you usually find in stalls at festivals in the ‘6 for £20’ buckets or it’s dumped in ‘goodie bags’ or re-priced to ‘free’ on bandcamp. You get the idea right? Shuffle unfortunately had this right at the top of their bio and already, alarm bells are ringing, the fact that the album has a hashtag as its title also doesn’t bode well either! This is either premature book being judged by its cover, or a well-placed feeling of caution.
So, getting down to it, cutting to the chase and minimising any exposition which would usually ease you into the analysis and opinion found in the words I usually write, anything Shuffle offer up on this release, other bands can/will/already have done better.
Composition and structuring elements are at odds throughout the release. The bass seems to be the only reliable part of the entire album. It is rich in tone, varied enough to maintain interest in and the technique of the musician performing it is rather good. The guitars are a jarring mess of pseudo-polyrhythmic garbage, the drums can’t decide which genre of music they belong in and the vocals are on the terrible side of Nu-Metal rap for large portions of the record. Backing synth and key/piano lines do add some depth and melodic progression to give some semblance of normality to the music, but you can hardly call it progressive metal! Sure, it may get progressively duller as the release progresses, but it feels more like generic alternative metal/groove orientated Nu-Metal. There’s none of the engaging composition factors which appeal to progressive metal fans, there are more ‘Quirky KoRn bits’ and badly coordinated riffs than moments of actual substance. Again, the only real positive of this release is the bassist and how good they actually are (Think Ryan Martine of Mudvayne; great musician, average band).
No track stands out well in this 51 minute slab of mediocrity. It’s just there to either make up a label’s yearly release quota or it is an effort for the band to find someone who thinks there may be a market for bland in a sea of blandness.