Release DetailsLABEL Basick Records
RELEASED ON 10/31/2011
posted on 1/2012 By:
Rule number #1 of emerging micro-genres: The EP is always better.
If you spent as much time as I did in the early Aughties rooting for modern metalcore to establish itself as a legitimate and enduring style of music, you know this is true. You learned it through long hours of research in the annals of hxcmp3.com, or through the unrewarded patience that attended dreams of somebody on Black Market Activities someday putting out a decent long-player.
Those long-players rarely came, though, and most bands who did produce full-lengths almost always darted to metalcore's commercial middle ground. To this day, I'm an unabashed fan of what most consider the absolute worst era of metalcore, and it's not because I have an extensive canon of albums to be back me up. It is really nothing more than a handful of demos and EPs that made the genre seem vital to in those early days.
A similar paradigm played out for djent between 2008-2010, with droves of musicians -- mostly self-funded -- sending out promising signals to a community hungry for ideas. Never mind EPs, projects like Periphery, Chimp Spanner, and TesseracT built mystique out of riffs. Among the actual bands to cultivate their legend during djent's heady salad days was Uneven Structure, whose free debut EP, 8, was passed around message boards, accompanied by hushed and uncommonly favorable comparisons to Meshuggah.
Februus, Uneven Structure's debut for Basick Records, is the sound of a band bridging the divide between expectation and execution. While they've done so gracefully, those whose appetites were whet by 8's darkness and insistence on polyrhythmic insanity will likely be disappointed.
The album's opening trio of "Awaken," "Frost," and "Hail" sees the band composing songs that are grander in scope than anything found on 8. Whereas the EP was a taut and ever-clenching fist, Februus' songs blossom organically. "Awaken" opens with down-tuned power chords resonating against a background of shimmering guitars -- a dynamic that "Egocentric Focus," one of 8's violent logic problems, did not presage. It's probably worth noting that Uneven Structure is at times so content to let chords ring that they've likely strayed from the confines of djent -- a genre whose onomatopoeic origin definitively states a disdain for vibration. Open noted riffs, like the one that follows the chorus of "Frost," are free from the obstruction of constrictive palms -- evoking Cloudkicker instead of Meshuggah.
Februus' opening troika -- which also features grand, melodically sung choruses and an increased employment of the ambient textures hinted at on the EP -- is where Uneven Structure sounds the most comfortable. These tracks could also be seen as the greatest betrayal of the band's potential. While it's important to stress that Uneven Structure's rhythmic alchemy is consistently complex in a way that most bands couldn't approach, that complexity has shifted from end to means. For those who saw Uneven Structure as a band who could match Meshuggah's scorching pace, Februus is the band instead letting everyone know that jogging is really more their thing. For the general listener, the middle portion of the album poses its own set of problems. The series of tracks between "Exmersion" and "Limbo" throws a wrench in the album's pacing, either by misguidedly cutting large swaths of sound out of ambient exploration -- "Exmersion" -- or less-than-vigorously attempting to retrace the band's djenty roots -- "Awe."
Emerging on the other side of the mid-album slump are a pair of tracks that, if we're lucky, Uneven Structure builds a career out of refining. "Plentitude" and "Finale" again reference the vastness of Cloudkicker, but fold in a measure of wrist cramping intensity, which, more any of their djent contemporaries, calls to mind Fear Factory. It's a fine place for the album to end. Februus, at its best, is djent writ massive. An album that which shows that, while some bands are destined to shatter boundaries, others were made to float above them.
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