From London, UK comes a new band, one which looks to shake things up in the British music scene. Sentience are set to release their new album Oleka on the 15th March, with it promising to be one of the best from a newcomer this year. The album showcases the band’s wide-ranging talent perfectly throughout its seven intensely emotional and heavy tracks, drawing influence from and further developing the sound of bands like Monuments, Tesseract and Textures.
The downpicking on Oleka is sublime, as are the alternatingly ethereal and crushing vocals of Stuart Sarre. Every single song is thoroughly varied, both in terms of sound and structure; proggy build-ups lead up to pounding grooves, with each song seeming heavier than the last until the monstrous finale. After dropping this titan of an album, I’m certain Sentience will rise through the ranks at a considerable pace, alongside other promising UK acts such as No Sins Evades His Gaze, Aeolist, Novena and FRAKTIONS.
Intro track “Dawn” leads into the album’s title track, “Oleka”. This impressive song sets the tone for what’s to come, with its powerful vocal movements following a heavy, head-banging groove. There’s a primal aura about it, and it’s almost guaranteed that this song will be a monster live. Fading to a twangy ambient chug off mid-way through, the song builds and builds, the finale being a mash up of beautiful tones and powerful vocals.
Especially seeing that it was done in-house by the band’s own guitarist Adam Skantze, the mix of the album is just excellent; the guitars are well-matched against the bass and drums, while the vocals are definitely present but not overwhelming. This is especially noticeable in one of my favourite tracks on Oleka, “Dissipate”. Fans of ItDjents favourites Ghost Iris will certainly enjoy this song, thanks to the soaring vocals, which blend in nicely throughout the album. Listeners will undoubtedly be able to enjoy the instrumental prowess of Sentience, along with Sarre’s fluidly soaring vocals, which constantly reach higher levels before toppling back down to the depths of a gruff roar.
Immediately following up this monster of a track is a true proggy delight, the seven-minute-long “The Pineal Gland”. It combines a level of layering akin to Uneven Structure with Tesseract-style chugs to create a veritable epic of a song constantly developing in technique and style. I’d even draw comparisons to Between The Buried And Me in the way that the track is continuously evolving instead of returning to the same guitar/drum patterns over and over again like so many ‘radio-djent’ bands like to do at the moment.
‘Enigma’, Oleka‘s closing track, draws things to a close nicely – even though the screeching guitar feedback at the end made me feel like I was bleeding out of my ears. My advice for Sentience – and indeed any band to put out a record in the future – is that while feedback works for quickly ending a song that’s fading out, it does not work for a whole minute at the end of an otherwise magnificent album. One could argue that the feedback does well in closing the album however, with the over-arcing concept of the album focusing on the word ‘oleka’, which expresses how hard it can be to overcome burdensome events in life and how it is possible to overcome and eventually push eternal sources of pain into the background of the mind. For me, I still abhor the feedback, but look back immediately afterwards to the brilliance of the album.
Aside from that minor criticism, it has to be said that for a début release, Sentience have absolutely hit it out of the park. Oleka promises nothing but great things for the band, and with the metal community thriving in the UK, I’d be hard pressed to not assume that Sentience will explode over the next few years. Again, this album is an accomplishment in both structure and sound, with each song sounding surprisingly different to the next. It progresses solidly during its runtime; even without interludes, it seems like a single piece of music. I’m really looking forward to the launch party on the 24th March 2017 in Guildford, so check back in for a review of their live performance too!
Notable Tracks: “Dissipate”; “The Pineal Gland”
FFO: Tesseract, Monuments, Uneven Structure, Textures