Albums like this one fascinate me. Like all progressive metal bands’ efforts, this one is packed with just about every musical nuance possible. There’s at least something for every listener, albeit more for some than others. But at least there’s something.
What’s more intriguing is that a band of this caliber is still going it alone, sans record label. I’d bet it’s only a matter of time before Israel’s Distorted Harmony gets signed somewhere.
Utopia is not quiet, but neither is it aggressive to the point of assault–it’s somewhere in between, and it’s not a bad place to be.
“Obsession” opens with a very progressive riff that sounds more like djent, thanks to guitars tuned down to A flat. After a subdued verse, it erupts with a chorus that sounds very unconnected to the verse, but then again it doesn’t seem to matter. You’ll have to listen to fully understand that, though. Shortly after the second chorus it starts to pummel you, but again it isn’t quite as brutal as putting your head in a vice or listening to a Meshuggah record (they’re both similar experiences, but I still love Meshuggah). “Blue” is another interesting one, for me at least–it’s very catchy but also musically challenging. Personally, I’ve always felt that catchy music tends to sacrifice the element of challenging a listener’s ears, but “Blue” seems to bridge that gap. “Unfair” is, well, also excellent, for most of the same things all the other songs are.
It’s hard to talk highlights, since this album is chock full of them. To pick one would be madness. After awhile, they seem to blend together to create one cohesive picture of excellence. It’s like looking at a huge mural; it’s gratifying to look at the entire thing from a distance as well as scrutinize over that one thing in the corner, as well as then the next four hundred things.
I’ve always thought that to be a complete musician, one has to be able to do at least a bit of everything. Going so far to one side like Yngwie Malmsteen or The Edge, to me, is not a total package of musicianship (though credit where it’s due, those two are better at what they do than just about anyone else). I feel this band encapsulates that idea, of musical completeness. Virtuosity is abundant in spades, but there’s calmness to appropriately balance it. The more one listens to this album, the better it will become. It won’t instantly blow you away the way a Liquid Tension Experiment record will, with more talent that some can handle. The way it will do that is how the songs are crafted, with plenty of shredding to boot. Any prog metal fan must hear this.
Key Tracks: Obsession, Blue, Unfair
June 12, 2012