Being an avid fan of progressive metal (well, all metal in general) for almost ten years now, I find it has become a rare occurrence to stumble across a band’s debut album and find myself genuinely taken aback with the quality and originality of the content said band is producing, but A Sense Of Gravity’s debut album does just that. Travail has been the first album in a very long time to genuinely surprise, impress, and shock me on their first try. An eclectic medley of genres, influences, and instruments is splayed throughout this remnant of experimental genre-mixers such as Between the Buried and Me, Dream Theater, and DispersE, which makes Travail an heir of knowledge and understanding of what it takes to create a beautiful album, but at the same time A Sense of Gravity is able to make these influences their own and create not a copycat album, but one all their own, capable of competing with the best.
From my very first impressions of the album, which lay is signified at the very beginning of the first song “Wraith”, a six and a half minute slasher of a song headlined with orchestral vocals and smooth guitar licks transitioning into lead vocalist C.J. Jenkins meaty growl over groovy guitar riffs courtesy of A Sense of Gravity’s three guitarists: David McDaniel, Brendon Williams, and Brandon Morris. Through the well-received and clean choruses of this song as well as songs to come, I was very surprised and pleased with the quality of the clean vocals, which were remnant of a little brother of Fleshgod Apocalypse.
Wraith barely even had time to finish before track two – a personal favorite and stand out track – Stormborn, began. Coming flying out of the gate with some super swanky riffs that have me grooving in my seat even on my fifth listen into a short transition of piano, which were a gleaming indication of the versatility and multifaceted talent this band has. Following Stormborn, the album continues its demolishing habits through two tracks to the seven minute long instrumental masterpiece: “Trichotillomania”, a massive, as well as massively talented, song that rivals the capabilities of Animals as Leaders and Scale the Summit. It was at this point in my first listen that I was fully sold on this album, the pure musicianship and talent encoded in A Sense of Gravity’s flawless execution and ability to comprise different elements of different genres with a sense of fluidity that even Between the Buried and Me could not channel on their debut album.
There is no down time for the power of this album, with every track it rages forward like a bloodthirsty bull freed from its chamber after spearing the gatekeeper. Through the Periphery-esque seventh track: “Above the Horizon” and the proggy Dream Theater sections in track eight: “Ration Reality”, the band hardly stops for breath on its progressive journey atop dexterous guitar solos, alongside the yin and yang of brutal growls and crystallic clean choruses. Finishing strong with the culmination of all their talents in the nine minute “Spectre”, one thing here is certain: A Sense of Gravity has created something unique, something all their own that will live forever, and something that every progressive metal fan should own. Take some time to listen to this album, I guarantee you’ll be sold by track three.
Written by: Dillon Mitchler
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