Art Of Simplicity
Caught In This Iless Storm
posted on 7/2007 By:
Caught In This Iless Storm is the debut full-length from Greek prog-metallers Art Of Simplicity, following on from their self-financed Asymmetric demo of 2005. This band combines strong vocals, impressive instrumentation and cohesive songwriting into their distinctly European sonic brew. There are layers of atmospherics on offer here, from the spacey, aquatic guitars shifting to flamenco-style playing to crunching metal and back again, to the particularly effective use of keys and violin throughout. Some of the bass lines are rather funk-inspired which seem odd at first, but there is also a noticeable Faith No More-ish influence in the vocals at certain points and a lounge feel to some of the songs which does gel over the album’s running time. The playing is pretty much spot-on throughout with the vocals and guitar-work standing out as consistently strong.
Standout tracks on Caught In This Iless Storm are difficult to pick, such is the overall high quality of the songwriting. However the album’s proper opener, “Vigil”, and “I Less” halfway in are particularly strong examples of the musical mix Art Of Simplicity offer. On these numbers one will hear the funky bass work, ominous keys played over the sweeping choruses, and the peculiar and prominent use of violin soloing where the guitar might otherwise. When they do occur, guitar solos are strong and to-the-point but are interspersed nicely among piano, synth, and acoustic sections. The sheer variety of sounds and instrumentation on offer is impressive.
It’s pleasing that the songwriting on this album is quite tight, the arrangements never venturing too far off into the unknown (and the un-listenable). Even the disc’s longer tracks such as the mammoth “The Last Lust” seem controlled with enough twists and turns (such as the incorporation of female vocals and brass) to keep things moving forward. There is even a death growl on this song ,which comes as a welcome surprise. As mentioned before, the vocals are a highlight, with a strong and passionate delivery combining well with the band’s lyrical intelligence and knowing sense of drama and storytelling. At times one feels as if being taken on a flying journey through a parallel world that is at times wondrous and utopian and at others, uncertain and perilous.
The production on this album is a bit of a mixed bag. The vocals – impressive as they are – are mixed a little too high, burying the guitars and drums some of the time. When the guitars are clean and effects-laden they sound just as you’d want from a progressive metal album – expansive, atmospheric and eclectic. Unfortunately when the distortion kicks in the guitar sound is rather compressed and, along with the drums, become slightly drowned out in the mix. This negates the atmosphere achieved in the disc’s mellow moments, which is a shame. No doubt a little extra time and money in the studio will fix these issues next time.
On Caught In This Iless Storm Art Of Simplicity live up to the mission statement of their name by delivering songs of vast scope and density while keeping the music accessible and the arrangements relatively tight. This is an impressive and enjoyable listen from a band with the musicianship and songwriting prowess to take their sound far, and if time and money allows next time around could prove to be a real force in the world of progressive metal.
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