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I like the underground. Not in the sense that I am a mole, but you catch my drift. There is purity – a trait which is underrated in almost every aspect of life – in what underground musicians do, whose raw passion and focused energy is the main reason why so many metalheads turn away from metal giants who we now feel are, for lack of better terms, washed up and past their prime.
Ready to prove themselves are progressive heavy metal group Schysma, who just released their new album "Imperfect Dichotomy", a five-track EP featuring soaring vocals and Dream Theater-inspired keyboards, a winning combination if I say so myself.
The first thing that struck me the minute the first track started playing was how much I liked the vocals. They were unique and had a very untainted feel - very raw and individual. The vocalist sounded like Axl Rose with a lower tone, like a modern day alternative rockstar with at times, a mean growl. There was an almost grunge feel to his voice, producing the illusion that Schysma were perhaps an already-established band. It has been a while since I’ve seen the metal genre produce such a good vocalist. Most bands today rely on the instruments for musical bombast, with the rare one or two bands having a truly outstanding vocalist. This wasn’t the case in the 80s metal scene, where almost every frontman could lay claim to giving Rose a run for his money. Needless to say, the vocals were a true breath of fresh air for me, and the most impressive thing about the album.
Now onto the instruments: the band can certainly play well, but there isn’t any one thing to point out and put on a pedestal. The guitars have a nice tone, and since this is progressive metal, there’s nothing much to say about riffs or drum solos flying everywhere. It’s simple instrument-wise, and the band lets the vocalist do most of the embellishment work.
My only qualm about the album was how the songs might come off a little bit forgettable. They aren’t bad songs, in fact they are rather good – usually underground bands have far less finesse and refinement, but Schysma isn’t bound by that. They have well-thought-out songs with good structure and natural flow, and listening to them can be a joy. It’s very easy to listen to, a pleasure to the ears with its very slight pop leaning. The only problem is it just isn’t mind-blowing.
Of course, it’s unfair to say that a band’s song isn’t mind blowing, because what is unmemorable to me could be the best thing ever for someone else. Then again, "Imperfect Dichotomy" as a whole did seem to have some folksy influences, making it more harmony-based and ballad-bound with less virtuoso moments. Furthermore, I could hear some Whitesnake dashed here and there especially in the way the songs will start out slow, build to the chorus, repeat, and then the vocalist will come thundering in with an impressive scream. It works great, but I felt that Schysma only harnessed the tip of what potential they have, and they have a lot of potential. However, Schysma did showcase that they are indeed a band of many facets with “Supreme Solution”, a track that veered off the usual course with a very rhythm based verse that exploded in after a melancholic intro, giving the album that nice kick of energy that was carried on and wrapped up skillfully in the last song, “Sinners”.
This is a very commendable effort which I enjoyed wholeheartedly from song 1 to song 5. In fact, it is not just commendable, it is impressive, taking into the account the mature skill the band exuded and the sophisticated songs they played. If you like something that’s between Whitesnake and Dream Theater with a tiny dash of Avenged Sevenfold, this band will make you happy. They will give you hope that the underground is thriving and that the potential that’s contained there could impact modern metal in a very good way someday. In the end, this is progressive metal, so I don’t expect anything else from the band except a constant progression towards better skills, better songs, and if it’s what the band wants, better chances of breaking into the metal mainstream. "Imperfect Dichotomy" is just an EP for now, but it can propel its makers to the forefront and give them the recognition they deserve.
Originally written for http://www.metal-temple.com