The Small Untruths
posted on 5/2009 By:
After discovering ‘Neath’s last effort, The Spiders Sleep, to be one of 2007’s hidden treasures, I was more than a little happy to find their latest effort come across my desk. Every once in a while as a reviewer you find a smaller band that you root for. Not bands that are gonna storm to the top of the metal world, but artists you hope will continue to persevere and develop with future efforts, and be recognized for their work. ‘Neath is one of those bands. Their dark progressive metal has more than a small debt to progenitors Opeth (and ‘Neath have plenty of company on that count), and the band does make the occasional misstep--Still, there’s something charismatic about what these guys do, and that’s an important achievement for a band so inspired by another.
A more detailed rundown of what these guys do was offered in my The Spiders Sleep review just a few months ago, so I’ll cut right to the chase. The Small Untruths is a logical and more than worthy successor to Spiders, as it sees the band offer a more polished recording and increasingly cohesive songwriting. While last time out the band occasionally peppered the album with tones inspired by the playbooks of progressive titans as disparate as Enslaved and Tool, this record has a much more consistent feel. It’s true that the band continues to owe a heavy debt to Opeth–partly in the structure and development of the songs, but also (and unfairly) because of Boyd Potts’ rich, powerful and very Akerfeldt-like death growls–but on The Small Untruths one can’t help but notice ways in which the band is taking the Opeth blueprint but continuing to further modify it to forge an increasingly distinct voice of their own. ‘Neath do a nice job varying up the requisite clean and gruff vocals effectively, and in particular, lighter moments with clean vocals are especially likely to hit the mark, partly because of the busy, sometimes near-tribal drumming that provides contrast. The keyboards as well usually help the effort, adding a grey, melancholy effect as opposed to Opeth’s recent retro keys fixation.
Songs like closer “Shell,” “Untruths” and “Worm” showcase ‘Neath as skilled and promising practitioners of dark, melodic and dynamic metal. There are snatches of brilliance here and there, but also occasionally of the mundane, and I can’t help but feel that they’ve yet to make their definitive album. They need to continue to stretch their wings a bit, but as it is this album (like its predecessor) is well worth tracking down if you’re a fan of early Disillusion, Frantic Bleep, and of course, Opeth. A band that’s worth your attention.
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