Adamind – Balance

As I frequently complain, progressive metal really isn’t that progressive at all. ‘Technical/melodic heavy metal’ would be a more appropriate term for most of them, because I don’t really see Dream Theater as being very progressive, nor Spastic Ink. Progressive is supposed to actually go somewhere. Adamind are one of the few progressive metal bands I’ve found that are actually kind of progressive.

The music is melodic, progressive heavy metal with a touch of Everygrey style power metal. What makes it good: no wanking. This is much closer to Clay Withrow than Dream Theater (thank god), and it feels like all the parts of songs actually have a point, no matter how long and sprawling they are. Additionally, the band hasn’t lost sight of actual atmosphere and songwriting. The melodies are traditionally inspired, yes, but they’re the important thing: good. This is actually melodic, and not in the incredibly tinkly way of most prog bands: there’s some actual power behind the guitars, some fairly intense compositions, and even some double bass. It’s prog METAL, not prog rock-masquerading-as-metal.

The production is, of course, clean, but there is one major issue with it: the vocals are way, way too loud. They’re not bad vocals, but they really obscure the rest of the instruments, and in prog metal, this is a problem. This is a genre where the vocals really are a secondary element to the instrumental performances, which, as good as they are here, really shouldn’t be hidden. The keys are effectively used, better than normal, in fact: they play bombastic melodies in the power metal style and never plink away in mock introspection. There are some other strange elements as well: the jazzy sections (real jazz, not the weird pseudo-jazz that metalheads are mostly acquainted with), the oddly placed guitar solos, and the Hammond organ on the title track (still trying to figure that out).

I guess the most important part of this album is that it sounds more like prog metal should be than what it currently is. It goes with the style of Clay Withrow and similar artists: it’s got the actual power and robust composition of heavy metal and adds progressive elements to that, instead of just adding extra distortion to prog rock. This is a heavy metal album first and a prog album second: I have no doubt that these guys in full own more Iron Maiden albums than Yes LPs, and they don’t show any of the weird insecurity of other artists in that. Prog metal bands are often only debatably metal, as though metal was some ‘low’ genre that they didn’t really want to be part of, but this is unashamedly massive in its construction, despite the precision of the playing and composition. It’s good.

While purely on the virtue of being a prog album it’s not something I would listen to frequently, I’d still listen to it more than any Dream Theater album. I think that many metalheads who typically dislike the prog style would find much more to appreciate in an album like this. Remember how bands like Vehemence took melodic death metal back for the ‘death metal’ in the genre? Adamind are doing the same for the ‘metal’ part. Worth a look.

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~ by noktorn on September 12, 2007.

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