Too many cooks spoil the broth. The same is also true in the field of music, albeit in a different manner. Often when a band tries to bring in a plethora of influences and musical styles to the table, they end up making quite a mess out of it, being true to none and often sounding unguided in their approach. This is where Without Waves stand out, as the Chicago-based quartet makes sure to not fall into the same trap with their latest (and extremely diverse) release Lunar.
Having been around since 2010, Lunar is the band’s third release after 2011’s Scab Platter and 2014’s The Entheogen. I cannot comment on their past releases, but Lunar sure does grab the listener’s attention from the very start. The energetic mix of math metal and progressive rock takes them on a sonic ride, keeping one guessing at what comes next.
Lunar makes an instant impression, starting off with heavy riffing, breakdowns and chaotic time-signatures in “Sewing Together The Limbs”, which brings the very best of the math-tech-metal genre to one’s mind. With “Poetry In Putrid Air”, the band starts to showcase their most unconventional skills, as the track shifts gears between hardcore metal and progressive rock at multiple junctions without sounding disjoint at any point. Without Waves continue to keep things fresh by bringing in further variety as the album progresses. The long epic “Lost Art” feels like an artwork of post-metal, drawn up against a progressive rock backdrop, while in “Fractals”, the band has one of the most memorable progressive metal tracks one is bound to ever come across.
What really powers the diversity on record is the powerful vocal delivery by Anthony Cwan. They are almost destined to remind many a listener of Chino Moreno of Deftones fame, as Cwan manages to pull off the gnarliest of rage-filled screams and the softest alt-rock cleans with near equal perfection. Praise must also go to the fantastic work behind the kit by Garry Naples, as the unorthodox structures of the individual tracks are held together by the pitch perfect drum beats, switching from the most complex progressive beats to full frontal assault and back without breaking a single note.
That’s not to say the album is completely without flaws. The tracks do stretch a tad too long and could lose the listener at multiple points. Also, the whole variety of styles does bring in cracks to the cohesion of the album, and one is bound to find oneself jarred and stricken as the band jumps from one track to another. But these nit-picks fade to the background due to the powerful and from-the-heart performance the band delivers from start to finish.
As a whole, Lunar is simply fascinating. When one gets the math-metal stylings of SikTh, the hardcore vibes of Dillinger Escape Plan and the ambient melodic beauty of Tesseract wrapped in a compact 50-minute package, it’s hard to complain. If this is an indication of things to come, Without Waves are definitely a band to keep an eye out for.
Notable Tracks: “Sewing Together The Limbs”; “Lost Art”; “Fractals”
FFO: SikTh, Dillinger Escape Plan, Deafheaven