The emergence of djent as a genre has always rather amused and perplexed me. The fact that a whole genre can be spawned from the sound of Meshuggah‘s guitar tone is quite ludicrous but at least gives me hope for my own genre I’ve been pedalling for the past three years, which is based on the snare sound from St. Anger. Of course, djent is so much more than this, combining ambient landscapes with brutally technical staccato riffs in a style that is progressive above all else. Uneven Structure have taken the genre, given it a good slap about the face, and set it back down on its path. Trouble is, it doesn’t know what’s hit it, and now that path could lead almost anywhere.
Februus is the kind of album that you have to listen to as a whole, such is its completeness and continuity. The songs all flow together with imperceptible changes as if they’re taking you on a journey, using your speakers as captive vessels. It’s an album that evokes striking imagery alongside the complex musical labyrinths it weaves in its story-telling manner.
Album opener and lead single ‘Awaken’ gently blows away the cobwebs before erupting into a cacophonous assault with the cathartic screams of Matthieu Romarin battling for attention with the frenetic calculated chugs of the guitars. It seems like it’s going to be one of the most relentlessly chaotic releases of the year until the clean vocals and ambient rays break through the noise like the sun dispersing the clouds until all that’s left are a few chords ringing clean.
This method of building unexpected structures and dynamics through the use of mathematical rhythms, ambient passages, throat shredding and melodic crooning is something that the band return to time and time again, and it’s what makes them so different from their peers. ‘Frost’ is more of an icy, subdued piece that creates whirlwinds of sound, whereas ‘Hail’ starts off as more of a death metal piece, with its (comparatively) simple rhythms, before moving into progressive territory.
After a brief break, ‘Buds’ begins the second part of the album calmly, gradually swelling and adding waves of textures before emerging as a slow-paced, pulsating bludgeon. In contrast ‘Awe’ is quite bonkers, a barrage of complex rhythms battering you from all sides as you try to dodge the machine gun vocals. Few singers are blessed with a voice that allows them to express such unrestrained frustration one moment, and such hauntingly ethereal beauty the next. It injects the music with an energy, immediacy and emotion largely unknown to progressive bands.
With such an emotional vocal delivery, one might expect the lyrics to be quite straight forward and one dimensional. Lines such as “Polygonal nests modelling brightless patterns” and “Essence is corrupted by vice emanating out of knowledge” are almost transcendental and just as complex as the music, suggesting there’s a lot more to think about here than broken hearts and misspent evenings.
‘Limbo’ is exactly what it says on the tin. It suspends the listener somewhere between music and silence. It forces you to acknowledge the absence of music and begs you to ask what’s coming in part three. Mercifully, it leads you by the hand into ‘Plenitude’, luring you into a false sense of security before the pummelling begins and leaves you stunned as ‘Finale’ wanders off into the distance to get lost in itself.
This is an album that will continuously surprise you, if nothing else. With rhythmic polygons, irregular song structures and a whole spectrum of emotions waiting around every corner, it’ll keep you in more suspense than an M. Night Shyamalan movie.