posted on 10/2011 By:
I’ve always enjoyed the Dutch math-metal band Textures, but never to the point of legitimate fandom. This is due to one sole factor: the vocals. The screams were painfully hardcore, and the cleans had an exaggerated Brandon Boyd-esque whininess that lent very little to the instrumentally-excellent compositions. Despite what I perceived to be a poor choice concerning their singer, Textures has always been undeniably tight and technical. With the addition of Daniël de Jongh, however, the band has reached a new level. I was initially hesitant when I heard the opening track, “Arms Of The Sea”, since the clean passages seemed more Broadway than brutal, both in delivery and lyrical content. While the lyrics never struck me as being particularly innovative or “deep”, De Jongh manages to tone down his flowery vibrato (to an extent) and allow a rougher sound throughout the rest of the album. His style is still a bit whiny for my tastes, both with the clean and harsh vocals, but Textures still delivers.
“Reaching Home” instantly grabs the listener with a simple, intense, and reverberating riff. Unfortunately, the vocals join in all too soon, and they don’t add much to the atmosphere. Nevertheless, it’s a mellow and melancholy track that gathers strength and showcases Textures’ effective songwriting prowess. Things take a crushing turn with “Saguine Draws The Oath”, a tune where each sonic element comes together and completely slays. It’s a reminder of what Textures is capable of when they decide to do away with the pop sheen that glosses over so many of their tracks. There’s nothing wrong with that -- it adds to their accessibility and appeal -- but those seeking something heavier may be left wanting more.
The album shines with the instrumental track “Burning The Midnight Oil” before going into “Singularity”, a tune that inspired a steely far-off gaze and rhythmic headbanging from yours truly. It opens with an absolutely killer groove to which I haven’t been able to stop air drumming and concludes with beautiful layers collapsing into one another, before igniting into one of the band’s trademark breakdowns. There are very few moments of true weakness, and aside from a few passages that are painfully saccharine, I have few complaints. “Stoic Resignation” is a low point for the album, with tired and overused vocal patterns placed over mediocre ideas, but it’s a disappointing exception amongst a host of great tracks.
“Sketches From A Motionless Statue” opens with vocal acrobatics that made me raise an eyebrow, but it regains composure with walls of sound and beautiful harmonies. About a minute into the tune, things get incredibly metal. There’s no better explanation I can offer, save to say that this is going to be a hell of a track to hear live. The Meshuggah influences are in full effect, and the song sounds brutal as all hell. It’s a dynamic, impressive, and aggressive ending to the album, and fans of Textures’ style of metal will probably name this as a favorite. (Notice how I am not using the term djent. Now let's move on.)
Dualism has an invigorated sense of melody, which borders on excessive but never lacks in enthusiasm or energy. Throughout the album, there is depth, structure, and compositional complexity previously unmatched by the band. It’s a job well done, with room for improvement, but Textures seems like the kind of group that is willing to push their limits. Yes, this kind of music attracts a lot of “bros”, but I’ve never been one to criticize a band based on the caliber of their fans. The music of Textures has, well... enough texture to captivate listeners on every level of musical awareness.
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