It’s been a long time since I could hands down say an album ticks all the boxes to be a masterpiece, but Uneven Structure have managed it with their 3rd release La Partition. To fully comprehend to you the unprecedented magnificence of this album, it would require me to write a short story for you. In the time I’ve had with the album, I’ve listened to it in a number of situations, in a number of various states and through a whole plethora of audio listening devices and on every medium it sounds the same. Perfect.
The album picks up the story told in Februus, one of turmoil in creation, but one would be daft to expect the band to bring forth the same combination of sounds that made Februus such a huge success. This time they’ve upped their game, with the beginning of the intro track ‘Alkaline Throat’ entering with a somber, harrowing sounding piano that would seem out of place in the atmospheric ethereal background layers of Februus. After this slow intro, the track kicks in with all 6 layers of Uneven Structure piling in at once. Pulsating drums play off the piano and the well balanced guitars & bass to create a awesome undulating layer.
This time around, the band have balanced their mix so much better, with the thunder of their 8-strings not overwhelming the mix. Listening to Februus & 8 just before writing this review, the band have gone for much more of a prog-rock/metal vibe with this album. They depart from the focused ‘djent / thall’ sound they and bands like Vildjharta & Humanity’s Last Breath coined & made their own in the glory years of the 8-string, which is great to see with the market flooded with copy-cats. Of course, let us not forget Matthieu on vocals; his unique and chaotic vocals cutting through the mix to deliver a wonderful mix of melancholic cleans, powerful hoarse ballads and destructive roars.
‘Alkaline Throat’ is a great opening track to the album, with the verses rising up to a huge cacophony towards the end of the song, before jumping back to another powerful ballad. The song ends and as expected from Uneven Structure, flows right into the next powerhouse of a track ‘Brazen Tongue’. Bouncy guitars, desperate vocals and the first taste of Uneven‘s industrial side make their entrance, with the track exhuming raw energy. In this track especially, you can really begin to hear the fantastic mix of the album, with each guitar, piano and drum beat separating out. With whining guitars breaking through the chaos, it’s an amazing listening experience to those wanting to revel in glorious surround sound. Fans of Tesseract rejoice, this track features lots of the classic distorted light guitar twang they employ most commonly known as a Milton Clean, but considering Uneven Structure homeland, one could call it a Eiffel Clean.
The third single to be released from the album comes next, which is also the shortest track on the album. ‘Crystal Teeth’ quite literally bites into you with soft melodies, on top of punchy bass, rising into what could only be described as a mosh-pit finale. The first interlude in the album again sets the tone for the rest of the album. Maddeningly violent electronic sounds climax and then gently introduce you to the 2nd single the band have released ‘Incube’. In my first 10 listens before the video was released I wasn’t very inclined to this track, but that all changed when I watched the video. The song fit into the concept of the album after that point, with the melancholy of Matthieu’s voice shattering the hopeful, bouncy vibes of the beginning of the album. Here you can also really hear how the band have developed their ambient sound since Februus too.
From here the journey only gets darker. Another slow introduction leads into the 6th tracks most startling feature – gothic organs, like something straight out of a Perturbator synthwave track. This pipes cast a forlorn shadow over the palette of sound in ‘Succube’. Later on in the track, an almighty furor of tone is unleashed, with the band really bringing the 8-strings out to play, with the crescendos the band pump out song after song never tiring, only enthralling the listener.
‘Funambule’ is a testament to the force that Uneven Structure hold, on both record and live. When I first heard the re-recorded version, I almost shat my pants at the tones the band employ throughout this track. Really bringing back the 8-strings, with clever chugs playing off destructive grooves, this song is just the definition of epic. The sound of this song bounces from desperation to chaos with ease, and while I personally think Februus peaked too soon in the album, you can kind of tell that with La Partition, ‘Funambule’ is just the beginning of the madness.
Another interlude gives way to the longest journey on the album. ‘The Bait’ takes on a whole new sound for Uneven Structure. In this track their trademark post-rocky vibes mixed with melancholic dreamscapes provided by both vocals and fantastic cymbal work, slowly crumble with the help of screeching licks, compounded with epic groove into a industrial mess akin to Nine Inch Nails or even Marilyn Manson. Queue demonic chanting and a furious build up into one of the most furious displays of metal I’ve heard since Frontierier or Car Bomb. It’s hard to determine what the pits will look like to this number live…
When you think that La Partition is done with you, you’re wrong. The penultimate track leads from dark to light to pitch fucking black, before rolling into the climax of the album. Don’t expect to hear a long winded repetitive fade out from the band this time, the final track ‘Your Scent’ grabs you by the proverbial and swings you round in circles. Like a undulating Textures or Monuments track, it crashes in waves over and over again, finally breaking against the shores of the final riffs after some more powerful ballads and crushing melodies.
This album is one that grows and grows on you as you unlock the secrets of each track, with gorgeous, dulcet guitar tones thrown in on occasion, drawing your attention away from the distorted groove and the harmonies of the vocals. This album is clearly something the band have worked on thoroughly, with attention paid to every chord and it’s duty in the mix of the songs. The production and final recording of the album, as mentioned earlier, are just sublime.
Criticisms? I’m sure someone who doesn’t have an insatiable thirst to listen to this album on repeat for the next 3 months could tell you.
Notable tracks: ‘Funambule’, ‘The Bait’, ‘Succube’.
FFO: Vildjharta, Tesseract, Monuments