I have said before that, I consider my role as an author for Lady Obscure Music magazine as akin to being a modern day treasure hunter in the world of music. My fellow authors and I are constantly looking for, and reviewing, new music to find those little gems that stand out as being a higher calibre than their contemporaries or bringing something totally different to the table. It is always a source of delight when we do find our little treasures and, to be honest, it doesn’t even have to be music from a genre we, personally, listen to all the time. I love to hear new music from anywhere and anybody and from the whole musical universe, just because it doesn’t fit within my normal sphere of listening pleasure doesn’t mean it isn’t ground breaking or challenges the boundaries of what we know as music today. Recently, I have been introduced to a new record label (Layered Reality Productions) that focuses on Progressive, Symphonic and Avant-Garde metal, their aim being to enable the bands to focus fully on unleashing their potential without any limitations or creative obstructions. Could LRP prove to be a new treasure trove of musical delights?
Now, the first band that rocked up on my radar from LRP was an Avant-Garde Progressive Metal band from The Netherlands, Adeia. The band was formed by classical violinist Laura ten Voorde who came from a classical background but was also interested in heavy metal music. The outline for Adeia was made by creating a combination of challenging progressive metal and lyrical symphonic music of the romantic era. Laura found an ally in Ruben van Kruistum who, besides being a cellist himself, was also interested in heavier music. This musical concept was then taken and refined by Franc Timmerman on vocals, Wabe Wieringa on guitars, Christiaan Bruin on drums, Laurens Hoppe on synths and Dennis Burgemeester on bass guitar. Adeia recorded their debut-album Hourglass, creating a haunting listening experience that will take the listener on a journey through the mind of the creator as well as their own. The album was released independently in May of 2012. The band was then struck by a set of losses that set-back their original plans for promotion and development. However they decided to soldier on. In the months that passed, the band got in touch with Layered Reality Productions who signed the band at the beginning of 2013.
To be fair, if you had never read a press release for Hourglass, you would really have no idea what to expect, the gentle violins and synthesisers combined with the melodic vocal that introduces first track Cordyceps is more like a soundtrack to a Hitchcock movie, full of suspense and hidden menace. Then, seemingly from out of nowhere, a stripped back riff kicks in and the progressive metal elements are alive and kicking, unlike anything I’ve heard before. It is an addictive mix of classical and progressive and, unlike my normal self, I really believe the growling and grunting vocal adds something to the mix, rather than just being irksome. The song moves into a full blown avant-garde style with odd time signatures and a post-jazz feel to the classical instruments. This is really, really different and the voyage of wonder continues with my personal favourite Providence, another suspenseful intro paving the way for an epically catchy riff complimenting the growls perfectly. A short return to a more melodic vocal is just a mere intermission before we got more of what we like. When you are given material like this to review it is a joy to listen to, classically melodic chorus leading into a cool interlude, Timmerman proving he has got an excellent voice. The crashing guitar and grunting vocals are, however, never far from the scene always giving a dark and dangerous edge to proceedings, a superb solo at the finish just adds that sublime touch. Title track, Hourglass, has a laid back intro of organ, strings and a super-smooth vocal. A monumental riff adds an almost funereal touch to the song, the cello adding a mournful backing along with the ethereal violin. The monotonous pace lifts a little as the growling vocal kicks in, Laura’s sublime vocal adding to the darker mood that the song inspires. There is a seriously technical feel to this dark behemoth of a song, staccato drums and guitar and numerous time changes giving it a strong progressive edge. This track has a heavy Opeth influence without detracting from the band’s own true identity.
Filling the Void kicks off with a pure technical metal introduction, another cracking riff immediately grabs your attention before the impressive rumbling growls follow suit. Another lighter, violin inspired section is a nicely melodic vocal piece but it’s not long before the return of the sombre vibe. The song then runs high along the peaks of darkness before dropping into some impressive lulls. A really classy acoustic guitar interspersed with melodic vocals and gloomy growls is just one of the highlights of this strong track as is the crashing, distorted guitar that brings everything to a close. Well, the fantastic voyage into discovery that has yielded this impressive debut from Adeia is brought to an end by final track, Inheritance. Gentle acoustic guitar and a melancholic violin is becoming a trademark of what Adeia can bring to the party and there is no better example of it than at the beginning of this song. The piano that follows this section of music is just beautiful and sets them aside from the usual suspects. One more quality vocal from Timmerman is backed by an urgent violin and some superbly judged drumming, where is the dark, dangerous and heavier side that has been running throughout the album so far? Well, you don’t have to wait long because here it comes, urgent, coruscating guitar and a truly heavy drumbeat working perfectly with the pressing feel coming across from the string instruments. The snatches of growling vocal are well judged and the song just runs away with a hectic pace, this group of musicians are extremely tight and play to an exceptional level. The vocal performance is as impressive as ever on a song that weaves its way expertly through the choppy waters infested with technical metal, progressive rock, avant-garde and even death metal as well as the unique and strong classical element. The way these somewhat contrasting genres of music weave together to produce a superlative whole is a pleasure to behold. As the final song brings the curtain down on this performance you are left breathless and wondering just what has really hit you.
I believe that you must step out of your comfort zone from time to time. If you want to discover new and exciting things you have to wander off the beaten track and look outside the box or you will never experience the joy that new discoveries can bring you. I truly thought I would not appreciate Hourglass because the music that Adeia create does not, generally, fit into my normal musical roster. Well how wrong can one person be, I have to say that Hourglass is decidedly impressive, smashing through musical prejudice with ease. We must give Adeia a huge round of applause for this musical extravaganza that they have produced, in fact, go and buy the album, I’m sure they’d appreciate that more.