The anticipation for the debut album from French progressive metalers Uneven Structure was tempered a little when finding out how long Februus took to create. Actually it was not the time taken as that shows care and the element of perfection in the band that has to be a good thing, it was reading the quote from guitarist Aure Pereira who commented on the album “We have been constantly re-writing Februus over the past two years with the aim of turning it into something really special and soulful. We wanted to be sure that we had put the best of us in it and I think we’ve been successful at doing that.” It was the ‘constantly rewriting’ part that raised a little concern as any artist in any medium knows and finds there comes a point where something is finished, it is at its height and continued work upon it simply takes the subject further away from its envisaged finality. Of course now one regrets doubting the sextet as Februus is a masterpiece of creative songwriting and its stunning realisation.
Formed in 2008, the Metz based band released an EP a year later called 8 (available as a free download in its entirety from the band’s official website) and immediately drew acclaim and eager enthusiasm for their debut which is released via Basick Records October 31st. Februus is a concept album spanning across two discs dealing with evolution, the passage from nothing to a beings completion. A bold effort for the first official release for any band but as the time spent on it shows Uneven Structure push and stretch their skills, ideas and songwriting until they achieve their intent. As good as 8 was there is a marked leap in quality and levels with Februus , their progressive metal and djent polymetric rhythms and riffs fluid within the astonishing ambient and atmospheric soundscapes. Expectation was of sounds loaded with Meshuggah/TessaracT type polyrhythmic layers but though they are prominent they fuse within the intelligent melodic tapestries and ambient passages, from this is where the real power of the release lies.
Februus is one of those fine albums that have an instantaneous connection as well as containing substantial textures and intriguing corridors to explore on each subsequent visit. It is a flowing album from the opening aggressive ‘Awaken‘ through to the closing ‘Finale’ on disc 1, each track merging into another with seamless elegance and effect but still making each song distinctively separate. From this the album works as a single experience or in its individual parts, though the greatest satisfaction is from experiencing Februus in its entirety. As mentioned ‘Awaken‘ strikes intensely before unveiling its melodic might and the impressive vocals of Matthieu Romarin, in a release of only highs he is one of the most triumphant elements, his voice and delivery a perfect balance between harsh and clean.
The opener flows into ‘Frost’ a darkly toned track with taunting riffs and a less violent attack though just as intimidating in it’s different attack. The trio of guitarists in Jérôme Colombelli, Igor Omodei, and Aurélien Pereira, who also provides ambient flows with synths throughout the release, unleash stirring and emotive sounds that make the song and Frebuus more than an aural experience. Romarin again fills the song with a perfect mix of light and dark over the forceful rhythms from bassist Benoit Friedrich and drummer Christian Schreil, in a band of talented musicians he really is imperious.
Tracks like ‘Hail’, ‘Awe’ and ‘Quittance’ enflame the senses with their startling construction and unique sounds, the band the instigators of imagery and emotions with their thoughtful and original arresting compositions. The two ambient fuelled instrumentals of ‘Exmersion’ and ‘Limbo’ are as striking as any other song and effective in making a respite to the intensity though both carry their own strength, especially the latter with its haunting and disturbing feeling of sensing something is there but impossible to touch or clearly view. This leads into the album’s best track ‘Plenitude’ which is the realisation and conclusion as it joins ‘Finale’ of the concept within Frebuus.
The production from guitarist Igor Omodei is impeccable with every element, sound and intricacy openly heard but still an even part of the overall mixture. There are no obvious flaws to Frebuus and with its depth and uniqueness it is at the head of the best releases this year. The second disc contains three tracks running 30 minutes of ambient sounds that run on from the first disc’s closing track and conjures up more imagery as it plays in the mind and senses. If there is one album to make a deliberate b-line to this is it, Uneven Structure has set a new standard for melodic metal with their debut and will surely make a lot of bands reassess their own sound and approach.