With the suggestion that it and its sound sits “somewhere between Meshuggah and The Ocean”, Harmonic Confusion the new album from Greek tech/prog metallers Tardive Dyskinesia instantly has a reputation to live up to. It is a tall order which band and release certainly live up to. The successor to critically acclaimed predecessor Static Apathy in Fast Forward, the fiercely fascinating and creatively imposing Harmonic Confusion has to be considered as Tardive Dyskinesia’s finest moment to date.
Since forming in 2003, the Athens hailing quintet has honed and evolved their sound across three previous albums with Static Apathy in Fast Forward a pinnacle in their rise when released in 2012. The years have also seen the band open for the likes of Mastodon and Meshuggah and play prog-metal festival Euroblast, it all leading to now and the release of Harmonic Confusion. Mastered by Jens Bogren (Opeth, The Ocean, Leprous) and produced by Tardive Dyskinesia themselves, the album is the band’s sound at its most rounded, accomplished, and adventurous; often a raw roar to numb and disorientate the senses but equally a melodic and technical maze of craft and imagination to enthral and excite.
The album opens with the instrumental Insertion, a piece as welcoming as it is technically eventful. It shows a potent restraint though, the band holding its boldest exploits for subsequent tracks while setting the scene and tempestuous atmosphere for the album to come beginning with Fire Red Glass Heart which leaps from its predecessor’s sonic lure. Immediately the winding tendrils of sonic enterprise springs from guitarists Petros Nikiforakis, Steve Lado, and Manthos Stergiou, the latter soon unveiling his clean and alluring vocals too backed by the harmonic tones of Lado. As the song slightly intensifies, a rawer gruffness appears in Stergiou’s delivery, the contrast of his vocals merging perfectly as the song twists and turns through its theatre of enterprise and melody fuelled expression.
The track captivates from its first note to last, a tempest like climate brewing without quite erupting saving itself for the outstanding turbulence of The Electric Sun. Wiry strands of guitar soon collude with ravenous riffs and the heftily swung beats of drummer Nick Argiropoulos; again contrasting textures and extremes of energy aligning in a fluid and clarity graced challenge to captivate ears and imagination alike. That rawness is there again to enhance sound and vocals as well as the song’s eventful atmosphere, offering a dirtier trespass to the technical prowess which intensifies alongside the nagging riffery and scything rhythmic persistence on offer.
Through the turbulent and at times almost spatial landscape of Self Destructive Haze and the mazy multi-textured Thread Of Life attention is tightly gripped, the second of the two a real seduction of ears with its invasive storm cored by melodic beauty, and latterly, dark stringed seducing while the exceptional Concentric Waves, with the ever compelling bass exploits of Kornelius Kiriakidis especially magnetic, mesmerises as it aggressively and technically swings to and fro.
As impressive as its first touch and listens are, Harmonic Confusion simply grows in strength and stature over time, tracks like Triangulation Through Impasse and Savior Complex laying highly persuasive seeds straight away which seem to blossom over time. The first of the pair twists and turns with increasing relish and grievance across its length whilst still bringing a variety of tones to vocals and intensity to its body. Another favourite and major highlight of the album it is matched and over shadowed by the mellower yet no less dramatic and dynamic exploits of its successor. As across the album, there are elements which maybe are less than unique than others but Tardive Dyskinesia embrace it in their own imaginative and technically riveting designs to fine and here mouth-watering effect with the noir lit call of the sax icing on the dramatic cake of the album’s greatest moment.
The album is completed by the infectious and hungrily resourceful Εchoes 213, its hooks and melodies alone as biting as they are romancing, and lastly the instrumental journey of Chronicity, a captivating epilogue to all before.
Harmonic Confusion is without doubt one of the year’s tech/prog metal treats and yet there is still a feeling that there is more to come from and creatively discover within Tardive Dyskinesia; a thought to add extra spice to one fine release.
Harmonic Confusion is out now on Playfalse Records and @ http://tardivedyskinesia.bandcamp.com
Pete RingMaster 22/09/2016
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