As mentioned previously in my coverage of their debut album “Through The Solar Storm”, Rendezvous Point have a bright future ahead of them. With members who have been involved with some of the best in Europe’s progressive metal scene, Rendezvous Point are back after 4 years with their second offering titled “Universal Chaos”. With their take on atmospheric and dynamic progressive metal, the five piece certainly have a challenging standard to meet this year with bands like Dream Theater and Queensrÿche releasing albums, Mother Of Millions delivering a fantastic slice of atmospheric progressive metal AND least of all, the long awaited Tool album is (hopefully!) coming this summer. It appears to be rather chaotic in the progressive metal universe at the moment!

Much like on the previous release, “Universal Chaos” is primarily focused around the bigger picture. There are some moments you would usually expect for a progressive metal band, namely virtuoso or extremely technical sequences, but on the whole, more of the attention of the composition and the music is on the overall effect of the delivery. Much like with “Through The Solar Storm”, there is a big emphasis on the atmospheric impact. The synth and samples work brilliantly by adding that over-arching effect, padding out the background or just subtly augmenting a melodic line or a powerful chord. The drums add plenty of the rhythmic complexity, shuffling and crashing with minimal fuss and the vocals are extremely expressive and dynamic. From effortless falsettos to raw yet gentle melodies, it all combines to create a highly immersive musical soundscape.

Trying to single out tracks is a tricky task. There are slight pauses in transitions between tracks so it is clearly identifiable where one track ends and another begins, but the problems arise when you are not ‘actively’ listening. It is rather easy to allow yourself to be swallowed up by the music, especially if you subscribe to the ‘headphones in, ignore everything else around you’ approach to things! Still, despite this speed bump of sorts, once you get into the release itself, it is a delight to listen to. With a rather reasonable running time of 44 minutes, the 9 tracks will fly by allowing plenty of chances to listen to them over and over, allowing the dynamic vocals and sprawling atmospheric compositions to take you away.

Opening track “Apollo” has a great demonstration of the vocal range, showcasing the passion, rawness and falsetto with minimal fuss and there is a hint of grandiosity about the track. “Digital Waste” has a slightly darker feel and carries a rather cynical view of trends in society today in terms of the lyrical content. Musically, it matches up; heavier guitars, crashing drums, subtle synth and piano lines buried in between the layers and a much sharper vocal delivery which lacks venom, but still has a commanding presence. Title track “Universal Chaos” kicks things up a notch in terms of pacing and delivery, somewhat mirroring the mid/late 2000’s Dream Theater on their less metal influenced tracks (lots of complexity in the composition and attention to detail).

“The Fall” has some spectacular drums holding it all together. It’s not in the same league as the likes of Tool and Rush, but it certainly draws some parallels with how cleanly the subtle fills and shuffles are executed. “Unfaithful” is an angular metal friendly number. Carrying a slight Nine Inch Nails vibe with the synthetic sound/feel to the vocals and instruments, it’s certainly a curve-ball to the rest of the release but it’s a welcome surprise in terms of variety and diversity. Other than that, it’s pretty much what you expect from a progressive metal band who have some post-metal leanings.

In all, “Universal Chaos” is a solid album. It builds on what was established on the band’s first release and it is a well rounded record. It touches on different approaches to progressive metal but remains true to the band’s preferred method of musical delivery. It could do with some more noticeable or memorable flashes of individual brilliance to add a bit more to the tracks, but the atmospheric delivery and vocals seem to carry it well enough. If this is what a universe in chaos sounds like, I’m all for entropy!

(8/10 Fraggle)