It seems slightly oxymoronic to say that technically proficient music can get boring at times. When you get a room full of musicians who are undisputed virtuosos, the push and pull between members can end up leaving an album as a fight for space between who can show off their skills the most, and it can end up bloated and insincere. Look at most of the djent/tech subgenre – a whole swathe of Meshuggah worshipping bands released collections of their impressions, each trying to prove that they could play in a more “out-there” time signature, and the results were, by and large, masturbatory messes. It’s a real blessing that Of the Sun’s Before a Human Path, is a musically complex piece of work that has clearly had a lot of painstaking craftsmanship put into its song-writing, and left no room for ego.
The album’s opening track, ‘The Tightrope Mile’, announces itself instantaneously with a polyrhythmic riff that has the sinister grime of progressive-death metal and the bounce of southern rock. It’s a pummelling few minutes before the song enters a clean-picked, spaced-out interlude at which point vocalist and guitarist, Patrick Duvall allows layers of sustained roaring to grow into the most metal Gregorian chant you’ve ever heard. The song’s final ninety seconds are a doomy chug, channelling Neurosis’ Scott Kelly in terms of singing ability. Sadly, the lyrics devolve a fraction to and sound less inspired; more like a forced prospective live shout-a-long. This stands as a stark contrast to the complexity of the rest of the song.
‘Nebulamorphous’ introductory minute is a masterclass in segueing ideas – there are four distinct riffs, each with their own turn of pace that will catch you off guard until at least your second or third listen. What follows feels like a blend of Mastodon’s ‘Quintessence’, and ‘The Wolf is Loose’; wiry, spiky guitar work over the top of off-the-wall, heavy as you like percussion courtesy of Johnny Reed. Excellent stuff.
The album’s finale, and highest point, is ‘The Limbless God’. A staccato guitar and bassline working in tandem with mechanically precise drumming with Far Beyond Driven levels of southern groove, as well as the most impressive bass work of the record from David Duvall.
Of the Sun have a tremendous blend of progressive and groove metal, all spearheaded by the Duvall brothers’ vocal abilities, only accentuated by their music. A definite must-hear for 2017.
OF THE SUN will release their new album Before A Human Path on April 14th 2017.