Devon Graves. One of Metal's most underrated talents.
For those who don't know him, he was the front man of Psychotic Waltz, a progressive metal band from the 90's, who kind of developed a sight cult following ever since their inception. Now during their hiatus, Devon decided to form this new band, and the rest is history.
Now, musically speaking, this band is very different to the sounds that Psychotic Waltz where making. The best way to describe this band is that they are basically a better version of Tool. What! Better than Tool!
Yea, I'm really not the biggest fan of Tool if I'm being honest, and in all fairness, I'm not the biggest fan of this band either. But if you have to make me choose, I would choose these guys, mainly because of Devon Graves.
In Psychotic Waltz, Devon's vocals where absolutely insane. I mean it, he could hit notes that even opera singers couldn't attempt. But with this project, he has toned his voice down a little bit. On this album he does play it safe with his vocals usually, but throughout the album he does hit some pretty impressive vocal moments.
This album is pretty much a Devon Graves solo album, mainly because he plays all the instruments on the album except for drums (even though he did have a current touring band). The production on the album also isn't exactly the best. I can hear most of the instruments, which pretty much what you expect, but Devon's vocals I feel are quite low in the mix, which really takes away the main focus of the band, which is his amazing singing voice.
Another criticism would be in some of the song arrangements. Because of the similarity in sound between these guys and Tool, some Tool-esque moments impact the songs a lot, which is quite noticeable at times. These include long hypnotic intros usually with bass usually being the main instrument and sometimes vocal melodies that tend to experiment a lot rather than stay grounded and simple. Some of the phrasing of the vocals sometimes are very similar to Maynard Keenan's style of singing.
The use of flutes in the album also helps a bit, giving some tracks a Jethro Tull vibe. Oddly enough the mixture of flutes does work very well.
I'm not sure if this album is a concept album, but there seems to be some sort of theme running throughout the album. The songs are split into chapters, which usually means something relatable, but other than that I can't really place together any story. Just a hunch though.
The album's intro, the two parter “Feed” is a briliant intro to the album. Reaching near the 8 minute mark, it experiments with arrangements slightly, which makes it one of the more enjoyable tracks.
My favourite song on the album would have to be “Some Things You Can't Return.” A brilliant build throughout the song and something a bit different compared to the rest of the album.
One of the albums longest compositions, “Crows On The Wire” is another stand out moment on the album. With brilliant build ups throughout, it does show some pretty impressive songwriting skills.
One of the best songs on the album is in fact the bonus track “Time.” A very different song compared to the rest of the album, mainly because it has a very poppy sound to it. I can kind of see why the band left it off the album, but I am glad I got to hear it.
In conclusion, I was slightly surprised with this album. At times the band's sound does drape through, but at times the songwriting can change slightly. In all fairness, these guys really aren't 100% my thing, but this album ain't too bad and has some pretty good songs on it. Some people although would really get into this album I bet, so I would recommend it.