Formed in 2009, New York-based progressive metal band Creation’s End has followed up their 2010 debut album, A New Beginning, with their sophomore album, Metaphysical. Consisting of returning members Mike DiMeo (Riot, Masterplan) on vocals, Rudy Albert (Zandelle) on guitar and keyboards, Joe Black (Zandelle) on bass, Dario Rodriguez on drums, and Italian Marco Sfogli (MullMuzzler/James LaBrie, Alberto Rigoni, Solo) on guitar, they put forth another notable collaboration. This album offers 12 new and compelling songs for the listener’s contemplation after a good 4 years have passed since their first album. After seeing them live in 2011, along with the pedigree of the group’s members, I was looking forward to what this album would bring.
Ohm opens the album with a minute and a half introductory piece. It is very techno in its sound, with a musical gravity to its composition, and is overlaid with various soundbytes. It sounds like something from science-fiction, which may further represent the scientist for which the song is named. And, as short as it is, Ohm is my favorite song on the album. It leads directly into the second song, The Chosen None (listen in the video linked below), which is a moderately-paced but hard-hitting full song opening with a chugging guitar intro with continuing synths underlying the riffs. The driving guitar riffs continue throughout the song, but are complemented by evenly timed and arpeggiated melody lines. The guitar solo a little past halfway in the song starts off slower and relatively mellow, but as it continues, the pace picks up significantly to a shreddier delivery. The vocals are also strong throughout this track, with a touch of choral accents underneath that carry the drawn out lyrics that change cleverly (“decide – deify, deny – deicide”) across the choruses.
Bivariate also starts right in with a solid intro that leads into the first verse, followed by a series of interludes and bridges before reaching the chorus. The channels/interludes are varied and give interest to the song between the verses and choruses, including one that drops almost completely to silence before easing back in with drums and keys and eventually a short guitar solo before the return of the last chorus. This song takes a few good listens to gain full appreciation for everything that is incorporated into this one piece.
Beginning with an ominous futuristic-sounding synth introduction, This Heart is a driving force of a song that once the rest of the instrumentation enters gallops along at a brisk pace. Stylistically, this song is all over, and shifts gears several times throughout the song. Somehow, the variations tie together well and make for an interesting song, although I felt that the vocal lines could have been a little more dynamic to match the intricacies of the instrumental contributions of the song. This song leads directly into the fifth track, All I Have, which is the longest on the album at nearly 8 minutes in length. It begins with a repetitive but portentous guitar line with some support from the keys and light percussion, while the vocals come in with a slow melody as the instrumentation slowly builds underneath. The song builds up steam as it continues and changes modes about two minutes in with a more upbeat tempo and positive shift in the musical direction. About 5 minutes into the song, a lovely soulful guitar solo interrupts and briefly changes the feel of the song yet again, supported by percussive effects, but then after another minute kicks into high gear as the instrumental interlude continues before reintroducing the prolonged chorus that leads to the song’s end. Though this song is on the longer side, the musical variations throughout keep the piece interesting and makes it one of the standout songs on the album.
Part of You starts off heavier from the beginning, and as the vocals enter, they have a rough, static effect on them that recurs intermittently throughout the song. This song is about five minutes in length, and sounds like something that might be geared for radio play. It seems fairly straightforward in its writing and delivery, and could be one of those songs that might appeal to a broader metal audience. Aside from a few nicely executed guitar solos interspersed throughout the song, it is has an overall repetitive feel, especially with the chorus, that could border on a sense of belabored redundancy, depending on one’s musical preferences.
Surrendered, however, begins with a much different style and tempo. This seventh track starts off slowly with a repeating arpeggiated guitar riff with light synth support underneath. The vocal entry is also slow and even without much flourish, and the beat is kept by programmed percussion that give tempo support with a modernistic flair. The pace eventually accelerates and grows about two and a half minutes into the song. The vocals are slightly more aggressive but remain mostly drawn out with lengthy vocal lines. The rhythm guitar keeps a moderately driving beat while the lead guitar puts down an appropriately melancholy solo in keeping with the song’s mood. The beginning theme recurs as the energy drops again about halfway through the song, and again builds with a combination of programmed percussion and trap set drumming, and fades out with the recurrent chorus played out by underlying lead guitar solos.
The eighth song, Push (listen in the video linked below), begins with a guitar-led entry, and the vocals again come in with an effect that gives it a very nasally sound. The rest of the first verse alternates with the effected and clean vocals, and remains clean into the chorus. The otherwise allegro tempo of the song takes a break a little past halfway into the song with a guitar and synth section that is a nice interlude with a different pace from the rest of the song, giving a brief musical break in a positive sense. Before long, however, the original chorus returns and the song is played out by a shredding guitar solo, bringing the song around full circle.
Turn Away starts with a chugging intro with nice drum support and has a pleasant drive behind the whole song. The beginning of the verses is an enjoyable change just between the drums and keyboards, so the lack of guitars give it a different feel and allow the song to rest on some of the other instruments that may not always be at the forefront for the bulk of the music. There are some shining guitar moments as well, in addition to harmonizing vocals on the chorus that give it greater depth. This piece is fairly straightforward and to the point, delivering precisely what it intends.
The tenth track, Bring to Life, begins with an ambient sci-fi synth introduction as a guitar solo continues to introduce the song until the rhythm sets in to establish the song’s foundation. The verses have moments of being nearly a capella and contain harmonies, as do the choruses, but at the same time are not highly showy. It cycles back and forth between being sparsely instrumentalized to great variations in style and tempo from the drums and some intricate axework between verses and choruses.
Constructing a Savior is introduced by a slowly creeping and sustained synth, while an unhurried effected guitar solo eases in to continue the introduction. The vocals enter in a lower octave to match the ominous, melancholy sound of the song. Not until about 3 minutes into the song does the pace and drive of the song pick up significantly. The style and pace continue fairly regularly throughout the song, until the end when there is more vocal and guitar fanfaring to bow the song out with a bang. The twelfth and last track of the album, Singularity, begins with an acoustic guitar with some accented percussion programming and light keyboard support. This is a slower, simpler song that could be considered the ballad of the album and is a gentle ending to this sophomore recording. Though it builds a little as the song continues, in comparison, it is a more easygoing offering compared to its sibling tracks.
Metaphysical is somewhat less “Progressive” than their first album, with shorter and more straightforward songs, the bulk of them around 5 minutes or under in length. Their style, however, remains similar but not exactly the same in all aspects. In general, I found that DiMeo’s vocals did not seem as strong as they were on their first album. Here, he sounded best in the low to mid-range on this album, and the upper range seemed more strained and a little less stable than the lower octaves, which still seemed on the low end of the pitch for me. Even so, I enjoyed hearing his singing again, especially in his golden range where he puts his vibrato to good use. I really appreciated the keyboard work on the songs, giving the songs depth and some otherworldly senses in particular places. The guitar work by Albert and Sfogli, on both the rhythm and lead guitar parts, were compelling and solid in their execution and kept the songs moving along at a good pace with a reasonable balance of both parts. There were several guitar solos that were shining moments throughout the album, and the variation of styles shows eclectic influences and a willingness not to be completely cookie-cutter in their guitar approach to each song. Black’s bass and Rodriguez’s drums formed a solid rhythm section that kept each song grounded with just enough finesse and intricacies to avoid being too cliché and complemented the other parts in the music well. The songwriting and delivery appear to be fairly solid on this album, though there were not as many standouts as I had been expecting. Creation’s End seems to be experimenting with their direction forward and finding their footing as they move toward the future establishing their worthiness as a progressive metal band with this sophomore release. This album is worth checking out for any Creation’s End fan – new or old – to reach their own conclusions with this new collection of songs.