What makes music interesting for me, is the incorporation of different rhythms, layers of instruments and melodies. That’s probably the reason why I like progressive metal so much. There’s an abundance of bands that show so much skill when it comes to composition. One of the first bands that led me to the ecstatic highs every music nerd dreams of is Combat Astronomy. They are relatively unknown, but their new record, Symmetry Through Collapse, which came out on 3rd of March, truly shows that they deserve much more exposure throughout the progressive metal community.
To begin, I would like you to imagine what it is like to experience music so vividly, so astoundingly intense, as it almost vibrates color before your inner eye. With a trance-inducing mix of suffocating poly-rhythmic bass, tasteful modern jazz and a manic, chant-like vocal performance, this album will hit you like a freight train.
This point is abundantly illustrated by the very first track of the album. “Iroke” is a song that is as beautiful and fragile, as it is ferocious and colossal. It starts with the soft, but also neurotic sounding vocals, carried out by vocalist Dalila Kayros, which sound fragile and perhaps a bit lonely in the yet to be filled emptiness of the soundscape; like a rose in a barren field. But soon a colossus will rise over the flower, majestic but frighteningly powerful.
The colossus, of course, is the bass in this scenario. It kicks in shortly after the drums started playing over the vocals. The balance is quite nicely kept between the vocals and the bass, as they simultaneously seem to repel and attract each other. It truly is some of the heaviest unforgiving low end I’ve heard in a long time. The drums seem to redeem this repulsion by holding down the groove extremely well, by following complex rhythmical pattern, but also being one of the most accessible progressive drumming I’ve ever heard. Of course, cautious listeners will quickly realize that we have a blind passenger on board. A clavinet has cleverly crept into the song, only playing short bursts of triplets in a rhythmic displacement pattern. The first few minutes of the song are a beautiful introduction as well as a profound statement about the technical prowess of the band.
Believe it or not, but this is not even the most expansive and rich song on the album. This title probably has to go to “Hik Mahl Hisze”, a song featuring avant-garde style vocals, ambient dark guitar parts and an effect-heavy saxophone. The track goes through various stages of noise and contemporary sounds, to end in a noisy fantastic clash at the end of the album. A truly fitting closure for such a cinematic album.
If you like it or not, you just have to give Combat Astronomy respect for crafting such an intricate, astounding, and not to forget – cinematic piece of art, pushing boundaries on every genre they incorporate into their music. It is a record I will certainly not forget when writing down my Album of the Year list. I recommend you to give it a try, as there is absolutely nothing negative I could say about it. Sure, not everyone will like it, but I think everyone, and I really mean everyone, can appreciate this as something huge and artistic.
Score: 10 / 10
Notable Tracks: “Hik Mahl Hisze”, “Kyber”, “Iroke”
FFO: Black Engine, miRthkon