I remember when I got the opportunity to review this album, I jumped at the chance. I mean, it’s not every day you hear about a metal band that boasts an impressive resume of former members of The Devin Townsend Band, Into Eternity, and Annihilator. Having already released their debut “13/8Bit” (referencing the bands love for eighties video games and odd time signatures) just over a year ago, “Biolith” is my first opportunity to hear the group.
The thing about not hearing this band but knowing the experience involved is I didn’t exactly know what to expect. I was sure there would be lots of progressive and technical feats interspersed throughout the album, but the three aforementioned former bands all take different approaches in their respective sounds. So there’s some excitement in the discovery process here to be sure.
And this band is definitely talented, precise, and original. Let’s face it, there aren’t many new bands you can say that about these days. Upon first glance, I found it odd that the first and third song on the album are the longest tracks, which it seems most bands would save till the end of the album. However, they work rather well in the whole scope of this multi-dimensional album. Album opener “State Of Flux” is a chugging technical feast with odd time signatures abounding. While the first half of the song sets it’s course and plays things somewhat safe, it gets vastly more technical and varied at the five minute mark. This wouldn’t be anything to note if it weren’t for the hype regarding their technical prowess in their website bio, but it’s done rather maturely and uses a good sense of song structure. It’s just too bad it took till that late in the song for me to get enthralled, but better late than never, right? The title track being the longest song on the album shows that the 8-bit video game music driven influence is present, especially with a full homage to the eighties in the first 20 seconds of the track. Beautiful syncopation and oddball time signatures abound in this rollicking track, which even adds some harsh vocals from vocalist Dave Padden, which are mostly foreign on this album, but in this case it helps to hammer home the aggressive and potent nature of their talented musical attack. They even throw things off kilter with a more laid-back and acoustic jaunt in the second half of the song which works well within the framework of the song.
The band does a good job of giving us heaps of technicality on songs like “Cosmic Delusion” (which is short by prog standards at almost five minutes, but they deliver as much as possible in the somewhat limited time frame) and “Temporal Divide” (a bit of a free-for-all; highly complex but it works). And they get more drawn out and expansive on songs like “Lessons Burned” and the already mentioned opening track. This speaks to the depth of the band and how they can please both fans of the mathematically complex and wide-ranging.
The mature songwriting aspect of the band is something I can appreciate in a big way. And even though they’re all over the map with their instrumentation, they have great song structure which they don’t lose sight of in the sense that they can go crazy but come back to the main song idea and stay grounded. And as far as each member of the band goes, they all stand out in their respective duties as flawless and truly excellent at their craft. They play with passion, and it comes across the speakers in very convincing fashion.
This is an album that definitely needs to be revisited on a regular basis to truly appreciate how much work went into the sound. The band has enough hooks and memorable chops to hang with the elite of the progressive metal world. Now it’s just a matter of distancing themselves a bit from the video game atmosphere as to not take emphasis away from the band’s musical talent. I think if they go for this idea on the next album, it should set them in a much better position to make a bigger leap into the progressive world.
01. State Of Flux
02. Cosmic Delusion
04. Status Undetermined
06. Lessons Burned
07. Temporal Divide
08. Corpus Solaris
Playing time: 51:31
Release date: 08 July, 2016
Label: Glasstone Records
Website: Official Third Ion Website