Progressive and Metalcore are two words you would never normally see sequentially. For the main part, Metalcore was a dynamic genre which really exploded in the early 2000’s, seeming to pick up where Nu-Metal left off, before it became a bloated mess of formulaic mediocrity. From this, offshoots happened, as is the case with many genres of music. The Melodic Death Metal influences helped spawn Melodic Metalcore and Deathcore, two genres which still have some weight in them today, but Progressive Metalcore? In the past, bands like Trivium and Avenged Sevenfold cited Dream Theater as one of their influences, but honestly, the only influence the Progressive Metal titans may have had on those two bands is something of a standard the musicians wanted to reach in their playing, not in their ability to create music.
Third Wave, a German five piece are relatively new to the current primordial goo which currently represents the genre of Metalcore. Instead of trying to rest on the approaches of many of their peers and predecessors, adopting the standard structuring of their music, relying on melodic hook laden sequences, contrasting vocal chorus dynamics and electrifying riffs which descend into generic chuggery, they have instead opted to take a more distinct approach, actually delving into progressive territory and trying to break away from the ooze. Quite fitting given the name of the album is “Metamorphosis”… So anyway, let’s see if this justifies its progressive labelling or if it is another case of ‘well at least you tried’.
On the first few play-throughs of the album when trying to get a feel for the music and a general picture of how it all shapes up before the actual in depth analysis and so on, I would have said this was deserving of the progressive label. I even told the big grim one in charge of this place that it was a solid 7. Of course, initial impressions and notions when placed under scrutiny are often thrown aside in place of more substantial ones. “Metamorphosis” as a whole is a progressive-leaning metalcore release. There are some clear elements where progressive metal, fusion and jazz-like moments combine well with the groove laden metalcore chugs and riffs. The intensity of the playing and the complexity of the drums, combined with the raw screams and slightly rough clean vocals does give the picture of something ‘more’ than just metalcore, but it’s not progressive enough to warrant being called progressive metalcore in my opinion.
Sure, the opening track “Algorithm” takes some inspiration from the Cynic-esque approach to ambience and atmosphere along with the aggression present in some passages, but it’s more akin to bands like This Is Turin than Periphery. It might pack some prog like elements, but it’s just really convoluted metalcore. “Inheritance”, “Ruin” and “Catharsis” are fine examples of the style the current Arch Enemy line up has been bringing for the past few years whilst “Shifter” is an all-out early 2000’s metalcore stormer which actually reminded me of the early albums from Avenged Sevenfold, Atreyu and Trivium! “Fill In The Blank” is a 7 minute long track which does well in terms of concept and construction effort, but doesn’t quite deliver on the execution front. It would have worked better if the distinct approaches taken in the track were actually expanded upon and made into their own musical entities.
It is only when the double-header of “Slumber” which shifts right into “Awakening” comes calling with its thrashy and death metal-eqsue elements does it become clear that so far, aside from complicated drum patterns, dissonant and angular chords at times, technically proficient solos here and there and plenty of atmospheric manipulation, this is essentially just a metalcore band who aren’t afraid to branch out and see what works. I do salute the brave effort and in places, the progressive aspects do click, it just doesn’t click as well as it should.
In all, once you hit the closing track, the instrumental number “Metamorphosis”, you actually have the first track which you can say is clearly progressive leaning. It works well in how it builds up, the shifts in styles tie in well with the track’s name and the delivery of the melodic passages is slick, delivered with a good display of technical ability.
This being said, I can see why people would consider Third Wave a Progressive Metalcore band. They certainly have a clear progressive influence in their music, it just hasn’t gelled well enough with the metalcore side to be fully symbiotic. The talent is there, the drive is there, it just needs refining with more releases so they can find that spot where it all comes together and doesn’t sound a bit too spread about at times.