If I am to be honest, a lot of Progressive Metal is pretty predictable. That doesn’t mean that it’s not enjoyable or full of skill and excitement. But when you have heard a couple of songs of an album, it is usually easy to make an educated guess as to how the rest of it will sound.
Admittedly, this is quite a smug position to hold.
Smugness will kick your arse if you allow it to inform your thoughts too often.
ThirdEar hail from Brazil and make an frenetic and eclectic brand of progressive metal. So varied is their sound, they appear to change styles like most progressive band change time signatures. One minute they sound like At the Drive In playing Rival School’s covers, the next coming across like Meshuggah trying to make a Pop-Punk album. And yes, you did not misread that last sentence! Their sound is as unique an assemblage of genres as I have had the privilege of discovering.
From the perspective of a reader one might mull over my comparisons and doubt the veracity of both the allusions and the ability of any band to paint cohesive pictures with such a broad palate of sound. Well, please do not doubt my integrity when I say that the level of diversity amazed me significantly. Nor is this dense music collage stitched together in a sporadic and disorganised manner. The arrangements are skilled and inspired; fusing rhythmic intensity to a hyper-aware sense of knowing melody, which is constantly surprising in its application.
Perhaps this how BTBAM might sound if they weren’t tethered to a codified notion of American musicianship and treated progressive intent as something fun and adventurous rather than an acerbic science experiment.
The eclecticism isn’t limited to notions of style. they alter the surface quality of their playing to match the intention of the moment. An approach which adds a compelling layer of truth to their sound. A facet which is often lacking from bands who have vast stylistic repositories.
Such a wide estuary of influences naturally means that the riffs on display are as varied as they are numerous. Delirium inducing binary plosives mingle with jazzy and lucid minor key phrasing, which is then neighboured by down-stroke heavy punky expressionism. But again it is the strength of the arrangements and song craft which make each style visited a joyful excursion rather than penitent pilgrimage.
The vocals are probably the least proficient part of the whole endeavour. Much more emotive than artistic, they conjure images with personality rather than attempting the same vibrant eclectic approach. Potentially this is to the benefit of the record, as they function as a central core around which the music can throw caution to the wind and get seriously experimental, without fear of confusing the audience.
There are so many moods on this album that I am certain that any progressive metal fan, regardless of what their musical requirements are, will find much to enchant on Resilience. Heavy and Jazzy, poppy and angular with the genuinely rare capacity to surprise, ThirdEar have crafted a record that manages to avoid over-complication, while still being brave, sincere, playful and invigoratingly mad.
Not so smug any more, am I?
– John Whitmore