So, I have to say that 2017 is turning into yet another immense year for the Prog and Tech metal scenes, so many great established bands releasing new work as well as some amazing new bands emerging from the woodwork. I’m also chuffed to say that Artificial Language are one of these exciting new groups from the latter who seem to have come from nowhere with a body of material that is well worth your time.
Hailing from the Californian Progressive Metal scene, Artificial Language offer up their debut album ‘The Observer’ which with its clean sound and plethora of melodic hooks is an album that does well on both a casual play and a more in depth listen. There is plenty going on with this record that will warrant many a return play.
Starting with a piano intro (which for a second I thought was going to crash into Between the Buried and Me’s ‘The Coma Machine’) before clean vocals entwine with an eerie disjointed melody ‘Observer’ builds towards first full opening track ‘The Grand Skeptic’ which dazzles from the go with some amazingly impressive work from dual guitarists Victor Corral and Charlie Robbins which weave classical yet heavy passages along with Jonathan Simpsons equally busy keys. This is a blueprint for the bulk that lies ahead, some amazingly technical musicianship which despite the wealth of ideas being presented still leaves plenty of space to not detract from the songs they sit within.
The band sound in places much like their british counterparts Muse but with a healthy dose of Native Construct, Leprous and other more ‘Jazzy’ elements thrown in which provides them a seldom untrod path to grow into, this can be seen in lead single ‘These Aren’t Mirages’ which boasts a beautiful anthemic chorus and leaves you wondering just how so many ideas were crammed into its three and a half minute length.
The albums pace is pulled back somewhat from the fifth song ‘The Silver Chord’ which gives vocalist Shay Lewis a chance to really steal the stage and lead a more emotion charged delivery which will really please fans of bands such as Voices From The Fuselage or Tesseract. The band aren’t finished with the fury though as the latter half of the album is full of faster paced frantic tracks. ‘Dirty Hands’ starts slow but builds to an exciting crescendo whilst ‘Fortune Teller’ sees the band channeling their inner Muse, sounding like something from Showbiz yet certainly stamping their own mark!
The final two tracks are also my favorites, we see the full complexity of the previous work but with more progression and even aggression in the case of ‘Mazes’ which is a constant shifting work punctuated by a repeated, angry punctuated choral part. ‘Turn off the Pictures’ is the last and longest of the tracks and offers an eerie, almost Horror film soundtrack of a theme which runs throughout its twisted chord progression…and that works for me, eerie carnival sounds abound!
Overall I’m mightly impressed, a bloody good debut album which hints at even more impressive work to come. The musicianship is second to none and there are some very well written songs on here. With a start like this its clear that Artificial Language are a band you will be hearing about for a long time to come!
FFO: Haken, Muse, Native Construct, Karnivool