One of the things that we, as heavy rock/metal music fans, often enjoy is the dense sea of different genres that encompass the music we love. There seems not to be a niche untouched, a style not overturned, an approach not taken to the huge map of metal styles to be found today. It must have been easier back in the day when all you had were Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Maiden and Venom to argue over. Now you could meet someone who calls themselves a metal fan and not have a clue as to any of the 100 bands they have just mentioned. And I think that’s a good thing. Now I am not saying that you need to have an appreciation or be actively supporting ALL metal genres out there simply because they’re metal (certainly there are some genres out there that are politically abhorrent in terms of ideals around certain things and not for me) BUT there are SOME genres that may strike fear into the heart of many an erstwhile metal fan out there and Prog may be one of them.
Now let’s not get carried away and pile onto this and start the cremation before we’ve had a chance to deep this the second full effort from French progressive metallers Uneven Structure. Let’s have a sense of perspective and judge this their new album on its relative merits. Straight out of the gates on album opener ‘Magician’, I can only say what I hear and it sounds like an offtake from the now defunct (for very good reasons) Welsh nu-metallers Lost Prophets latter day material in both the vocal delivery and the layers of crisp and precise guitars, swathed in a cloak of keyboards and samples and it fails to pull the proverbial rabbit from its hat. So far, so what? Next track ‘Hero’ develops this musical paradigm a touch and the vocals segue from the crooning rock god style, to a barked, screamed delivery which actually seems to bring the best out of the band, as the guitars switch up a gear and the china heavy, special effects cymbals and samples take a bit of back seat and the song actually acquiesces into something half decent . ‘Caregiver’ embraces a slightly more industrial tone, like a beefier Filter without the Richard Patrick flavour.
You can also see where the musical comparisons seen in other reviews of their back catalogue and the accompanying PR bullshit come from, yes, there are flashes of genre bedfellows Tesseract, Animals As Leaders and Periphery but there is nothing on this album that even begins to compare with anything the aforementioned bands have released. There are also times where the pace slows a little and the heavy is dialled up a touch where you can hear a little of the time signature schizophrenia of Swedish masters Meshuggah but that dies out all too quickly before we’re back into the lighter musical territory of the songs that have gone before. Too criticise a band for not being heavy enough for your musical tastes is churlish and decidedly un-professional but what you can criticise Uneven Structure for, is a lack of musical ideas of their own. To simply cobble together a collection of songs that come from the ‘How to play progressive metal like all the bands I like’ book, shows a lack of imagination and creativity. The production is dense and powerful and the musicianship in general is top notch, it just doesn’t knit together cohesively and by the middle of this album I was bored. Which is the worst crime of all.
I would never just slag a band off for not being what I want them to be (my perfect band would be Helmet playing covers of Isis the band, Botch and Cave In whilst wearing Pantera and Suffocation t-shirts if you’re interested?) but this is deathly dull, boring and monotonous, stealing from their influences rather than expanding on them. They have simply created a vanilla, carbon copy of something we’ve heard before, by bands much, much more competent than themselves.
(4/10 Nick Griffiths)