I’ve been meaning to review “The Didact” since it’s release early last month. Upcoming Swedish Progressive Metal unit Means End made one helluva impression when they released their debut EP about a year before that. Known for being the band of vocalist Robert Luciani (ex-Vildhjarta), Means End have proven that they’re much more than the haven for a talented name. Rather they are an extremely tight and talented musical unit bringing creativity and an ever morphing groove to the forefront.
Stockholm Syndrome may ensue as the music pummels you between rhythmic heaviness and off kilter, jazzy melodic work blurring the line of insanity. The chord selection is quite interesting and tasteful and the musical progressions range anywhere from great to awe-inspiring. Might have mentioned, but this is one damn groovy record. Means End are locked into a pulse when they play. Impressive chemistry to say the least. They’re also capable of covering a number of musical dynamics. This is not a band you will simply understand after hearing a single song.
The twelve tracks present are aligned to bring you on a metaphysical trip. This is apparent immediately as “Candle In The Dark” illuminates the mind through winding complexity and various musical approaches. Immense creativity and far flung forward thinking are present here. These things are true of just about every track. Stand outs include “Nox Aurumque”, “Omega Barrier”, “Sun Wukong”, and the closer “To Love” among others. The amazing “Ominous Notions”, “Lost In Thought”, and “Magnaminous” from the original EP also make a return with the titles “Lied Von Leid”, “Mourning Star”, and well… “Magnaminous”. Generally the leaps made from the original versions are positive. And considering the originals were awesome, that’s noteworthy.
The track “Nox Aurumque” is a trip of it’s own. It’s a recreation of the original choral piece composed by Grammy Award winning composer / conductor Eric Whitacre. You can listen to the original here. With his collaboration, Means End re imagined the original. They did a thorough job from the instrumentation to the brilliant vocals of Robert Luciani sung in Latin. Very impressive.
There are a few minor downsides to “The Didact”. Certain elements of the production are stronger than others. But it’s a strong effort overall, especially when you consider the album was an independent, self-produced release. Means End also have a thing for spoken segments, usually to begin or end a song. These range from being interesting (ambition segment towards the middle of “Omega Barrier”) to being campy and taking away from the experience (the beginning and end of “Crimson Interloper”… especially the end. 2:50 is abrupt and awesome until Alice In Wonderland arrives). As far as I’m concerned, Means End can do whatever they want though.
What’s so interesting about this band is that you get the impression this is only the beginning for them. “The Didact” is a solid debut full-length. This band has an outrageous amount of potential to cover more grouns. The talent and forward thinking present here are capable of legendary things. One can only wait and listen for the future.
I’d most definitely say this one of the better Progressive Metal releases to drop this year. It packs an impressive amount of content and quality into a 50 minute ride. Plenty of bang for your buck as they say. This means there’s plenty of replay value in “The Didact”. I’ve personally been listening to it regularly since the release. Great stuff. Be sure to check the tracks above for some of that Stockholm Syndrome. If it captivates you, stream / support that greatness here!