posted on 3/2008 By:
As instrumental groups gain steam in the metal world, Boston-based 5ive (also known as 5ive’s Continuum Research Project) are definitely not among the leaders of the pack in terms of popularity. However, they do add something interesting to the mix. Their brand of atmospheric rock/metal fits in with acts like Pelican and Explosions in the Sky, but I hesitate to use the term post-metal, as I got a severe lashing last time I did so, and said lashers may have had a point about the strangeness of the term. As such, I must say that atmospheric instrumental band 5ive is on the verge of joining the atmospheric metal in-crowd with their newest release. Almost.
The nature of 5ive and third full-length album Hesperus, is more than a little polarizing. Some will say it’s simply mesmerizing while some will say it’s a snooze-fest. The difference, friends, is an attention span. Lacking an attention span (as many metal fans do) is nothing to be ashamed of. All it means is that 5ive might not be for you. That said, Hesperus has some surprisingly catchy segments that, for this reviewer at least, almost make the album worth a purchase. Unfortunately for the duo of guitarist (that includes bass) Ben Carr and drummer Charlie Harrold, they seem to have been unable to come up with enough catchy segments to elevate the album to the level of their contemporaries.
Despite offering a seemingly low seven songs, Hesperus clocks in at a healthy 45 minutes, which would feel about right, save for the album’s Achilles’ heel: its repetitiveness. “Gulls” begins the album with spacy, cold feedback and discordant guitar that buzzes with only a fraction of the distortion yet to come. Military-like drums come out of nowhere along with a rumbling, heavily distorted guitar that occasionally flits in higher, melodious tones. The remainder of the song alternates these elements in a somewhat cyclical, but interesting listen. The low-end guitars rumble like a gentle earthquake, while the drums propel the song forward with gusto. Second track “Big Sea” is perhaps the most rocking tune here. Complex and innovative drumming along with a constant stream of distortion-laden grooves vacillate with echoey, spacy melodic interludes, making this an undeniably groovy listen. “Kettle Cove” is short, but perhaps the most energetic track on the album. It makes enviable use of a wah pedal amid more frantic picking, creating a rollicking start/stop tempo. The “chorus” includes more spacy high notes that are bent to the border between funky and metal. Sadly, the track is a mere three minutes. The remainder of the album drifts into drony repetitiveness, with “News I” acting as the apex of mediocrity on the album.
This album could have been much more had 5ive expanded on the intermittently inventive songwriting. I do appreciate this increasingly popular genre of instrumental atmospheric metal, but it’s as if the band gave up halfway through each song with the thought that doubling up on the cool passages they did write could carry them through the remainder of the album. Hesperus is okay, with several moments of clarity that would rope in many listeners, but the sheer repetitiveness of it all will likely turn most off to this release.
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