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Canadian Progressive Metallers prove themselves - 80%

absurder21, April 18th, 2012

Progressive metal is a genre that, much like its original rock counterpart, defies exact definition. The only things one can generally expect from the genre are: irregular time signatures, lengthy songs, and technical proficiency in almost every instrument. However, the way these conventions are used differs for each band, so they are difficult to pinpoint. So in a sense, the impossibility of properly defining it is exactly what defines progressive music (well, and avant-garde, but that’s a whole other bag really), and this is very much the case with Canadian instrumental progressive metal band The Isosceles Project and their new album Bridges.

As I mentioned earlier, The Isosceles Project is an instrumental band, obviously meaning there are no vocals present on this record. With that we can see how the ante was upped to write interesting, heartfelt, and catchy passages that would occupy the attention gap. And they pull it off. Every instrument is notable, each component doing something completely interesting and unique with each other. Yet, it is also so perfectly cohesive it feels like the musical equivalent of a chemical reaction. Eric Euler’s guitar work is as graceful as it is crushing and mathematical, going fluidly from atmospheric, technical leads to pummeling prog metal riffs. Brandon Smith’s drumming is just as bipolar, going from calculated, odd-time-signature-laden jazz fills to abrasive, almost extreme metal-tinged aggression in a heartbeat. All of this is then tied together by masterful bassist Scott Tessier, who perfectly bridges the gap of rhythm and melody—displaying atmospheric and soulful basslines that are equally attention-grabbing as Eric’s riffs, yet also enforce the timbre and ferocity of the drums.

The album definitely evokes a lot of moods and atmosphere and as such never really repeats itself. Even without vocals the music kind of writes its own lyrics and ideas in your head, leaving you to make of the music what you will. While this is a record chock-full of head-whirling technicality and jaw-dropping skill, the band never lose focus on writing catchy and great songs—a trap a lot of their peers in the genre fall into. It’s edited and structured very well, and this is most likely aided by the touch of engineer Dave Sheldon (known for his work with local hardcore punk heroes Fuck The Facts), whose skill is quite apparent in the near flawless production of the record. Thanks to his work, none of the instruments ever clash or hinders the full stream of consciousness, so in the end we have one, 100% comprehensive unit of music.

Although this is a record that(albeit very progressive and unique) is not completely incomparable to any bands out today. In dissecting their sound I could hear influences from some of today’s giants of the genre: Cynic, Intronaut, Dream Theater, Russian Circles, Ihsahn, and Rush. They by no means rip these bands off though, only perfectly incorporating some of the notable aspects of these bands into their own personal sound, done so in a way that fans of these bands are sure to enjoy this record while also finding a great new band to follow. All in all this is a very solid sophomore effort by the band, and shows that they are only growing and becoming better as a musical unit. Hopefully we can expect a lot more great material from the band, because if Bridges is any sign, they can only release better and more powerful music as time goes on, and they definitely have the potential to be one of Canada’s giant of the progressive metal genre.