So let’s get this out of the way first. There will be some comparisons between Aliases and guitarist Graham “Pin” Pinney’s highly-regarded prog outfit SikTh. While this is Aliases’ first batch of new material in almost five years since their debut EP “Safer Than Reality”, it’s clear that with SikTh’s recent reformation, “Derangeable” will definitely be on the radar of Pinney’s more recognizable outfit as far as initial fan interest goes. However I think this band can carve their own following separate from the more established outfit.
Now with that tidbit out of the way, let’s get to the music at hand. With a glance at the gorgeous album artwork, it would make sense for the listener to assume that the music contained within said packaging is going to mimic the cover; lots of layers and colourful musicality, with an overly talented backdrop. And they’d be totally right in that assumption. While this band is not entirely original as far placing themselves in the prog/djent scene, it doesn’t mean that they don’t have the skill and writing ability to put themselves as major contenders to help lead this genre-specific pack of music.
I’m definitely on board with what this band is doing for the most part. Tracks like “Find Where You Hide” is a good representation of the band as a whole in that it showcases progressive with a djent edge, while being all over the place music wise and showcasing how versatile the individual instruments are when contributing to the final product. The surprising saxophone solo near the end of the song gave me a good bit of hope for the album. “Everything Is Upon Us” takes me to a place where I remember the most playful parts of early Mudvayne as far as the bass heavy background with the guitars adding punch. “Uncontrollable Desires” gives us a nice interplay between the guitar and bass to start, with interesting tempo changes going from slow and labored to fast and deliberate throughout the track. “Callous” goes from chugging to melodic, both in instruments and vocals while “Face For Lust” gives us precision instrument interplay and soaring vocals.
It would be a disservice to the listener to not say that there are some aspects that weren’t as pleasurable to me. The main grudge I have with this album is a problem that I find as a whole in the whole djent scene. The over-produced and almost perfect play through of all instruments is a bit of a deterrent as I find it almost manufactured sounding. This stems as a major stumble for me in this sub-genre. You’d almost think that this would mean that the band doesn’t have the talent to pull off a finished product, which is not where I’m going with this thought at all. To me it just means that it can at times sound robotic, especially with guitar work that comes across as clicky with a start-stop mentality, not to mention the finger tapping that seems to be placed in a rhythm role as opposed to a guitar solo where it might fit better in a more traditional sense. But is this band traditional in composition? Absolutely not. The demented time signatures and technical prowess would indicate otherwise.
With “Derangeable”, the more I listen to it, the more I can hear more layers and sounds I didn’t hear on the first listen. It definitely grew on me as it played on, which is hard for a djent influenced progressive metal band to do for me. That is ultimately the main strength of this band; many layers and so much to digest that it can be an entirely different journey with each listen.
I’m a fan of this album, I really am. I just want to hear where they can go next with their incredible talent. Ultimately what I would hope for the band upon further recordings is that they step back slowly from the trappings and conformity of the sub-genre they picked to record in, and fully embrace the progressive landscape of which they have found residence in.
1) Find Where You Hide
2) Everything Is Upon Us
3) Back To The Start
4) Smile All You Like
5) Deep Sea Avenue
6) Uncontrollable Desires7) Callous
8) Face For Lust
9) Seen It All
10) Untangled Mind
11) Above The Sky
Playing time: 49:02
Release date: 15 April, 2016
Label: Basick Records
Website: Aliases on Basick Records