There must be something in the water in northern Europe that causes the creation of astounding amounts of progressive metal bands. This time it’s Sweden’s Structural Disorder who are back with their third full-length album …and the Cage Crumbles in the Final Scene. This album starts on a high note and ends on a high note with some mixed results in between. Most of it is good, solid progressive metal that takes cues from many of Structural Disorder’s predecessors.
The band decides to ease the listener into the album with a short, acoustic intro track called “Inside”. It gives the listener a chance to prepare for what is to come. “Inside” leads nicely into the first full-length track, the near-11 minute long “The Fool Who Would Be King.” This track demands your attention right from the start. The furious drum fill launches us into a heavy guitar riff. The guitar tone on this track in particular sounds very much like the one that Dream Theater used on their 2013 self-titled album. Keyboards add another layer to the riff that eventually leads to a quirky verse that wouldn’t sound out of place on either a Haken or a Between the Buried and Me album. Then we get our first taste of the harsh vocals on this album, which are very impressive. There is a lot of depth and body to the screams and it sounds like they are layered with a low growl and a bit of a higher scream. The clean vocals are well done for the most part. When the vocalist tries to stretch his range on the high end, he can fall a bit flat at times. This track is a prototypical prog metal piece and is a great way to start off the album.
The second track on the album, “Drowning”, is another highlight of the album. It really shows off the two different sides of Structural Disorder’s music. The song starts off with piano and vocals before going to very djenty breakdown, which is the heaviest part on the album. The guitar and keyboard solos on this song are very impressive and the rhythms underneath complement each solo very nicely. The song seems to build as it goes on and hits that djenty breakdown one more time before reaching the end of its near-nine minute runtime.
Of course, this album is not perfect. There are some places where it feels stale and stagnant. “The Architect of the Skies” is the main piece that just feels a little bit out of place on the record. That’s not to say the song is bad by any means, but it seems like filler. There simply isn’t a whole lot to say about it. At first impression, it sounded a bit like a Symphony X ballad. It still had heavy elements, but there was piano and exclusively clean vocals. The piano followed along with the guitar riffs and the performances were spot on. It simply wasn’t a memorable track.
Thankfully, however, this album ends on a high note. “Mirage” is the epic 11-minute closer to …and the Cage Crumbles in the Final Scene. It begins with a bass intro, which sounds very similar to Dream Theater’s “As I Am”. The intro riff is infectious and makes you want to bang your head. It sounded a lot like something Circus Maximus would write, combined with a very similar guitar tone. Another heavy riff creates a staple of progressive metal where the kick drum, guitar, and bass all lock in together on a rhythmic pattern. The pattern on this track is very unique. There was also some very bizarre ASMR-like whispered spoken word. I don’t know how to feel about it, and it kind of broke the momentum of the song, but not enough to detract from the track’s quality. It was a fantastic closer to a very cool, solid progressive metal album.
Structural Disorder have created an album that very clearly shows off their influences, ranging from Dream Theater to Haken to Tool (especially on the verses of “Nine Lies”). There is enough variety in styles to show that this band is anything but a one-trick pony. They can be heavy, atmospheric, melancholy, or quirky. The band pick their spots for each style very well. While there are a hiccup or two in the middle, the bulk of this album is very impressive and should appeal to many fans of progressive music.
Notable Tracks: “The Fool Who Would Be King”; “Mirage”; “Drowning”
FFO: Haken, Dream Theater, Tool, Between the Buried and Me