Bend the Sky – Origins – 79%

Constructs cover art

What this Australian 4-piece produce is very unique, at least within the post-metal/instrumental sphere. ‘Origins‘ is their first full length album but they have a very mature sound for a band who’ve only been together for two years. Owing much to Meshuggah’s percussive riffing, time signature shifts and key changes, Bend The Sky produce, as far as I’m aware, the first post-djent sound. It’s a multilayered symphony, with influences ranging from the¬†aforementioned progressive metal giants to black metal. Huge slabs of syncopated, machine-gun riffs pummel you whilst intricate solos soar over the top. Some of the guitar interplay wouldn’t appear out of place on a Sikth record! Symphonic keyboards weave in and out of prominence, sounding like out takes from an Emperor record in places, technical where needed but all the while boosting an already rounded sound. The drums are, as with the rest of the band, something a little different.

Our first taste of them comes in the form of near blastbeats as the album leaps out of the keyboard intro to the first track and they pretty much show their entire range in this song, screaming out of the blocks and veering between technicality, skillful simplicity and crushingly heaviness. This is one of the heaviest tracks on the album and I’m sure they’re using it to scare off the less heavy minded post rock fans. That being said, if you stick with it you are treated to one of the better songs on the album. The guitars are well balanced; by turns brutal then delicate and the keyboards are sublime with intricacy. Much as I feel they don’t need a vocalist, this song could easily see some black metal screams over top to add even more atmosphere.

The first half of the album continues in the vein of the first track, furious riffing and thunderous drumming completed by choral keyboards. ‘Glaciers‘ , the third track starts to show that the tracks are named for a reason; the song being powerful, purposeful and unstoppable. Standout moment of the album is the solo in this song; it wouldn’t even sound out of place on November Rain! As the we come to the second half of the album there is a definite shift in mood. The intensity is toned down in place of an introspective pace. The heaviness remains but instead of having an black metal feel to it there is a distinctly hopeful tone. ‘Halcyon‘ conjures up a final showdown between good and evil with good being on the winning side and ‘A Mindful Wave’ having a Devin Townsend-esque, open sky feel. These penultimate tracks leave you feeling like you’ve traveled a journey; one from uncertainty to optimism.

However, it’s not all good. Parts of the album already sound dated, having a nu-metal sound to them and, whilst the overall production is very good, the piano moments sound cheap. They also rely a bit too heavily on the crash symbol for the heavy sections despite showing us that the drummer definitely knows his way round the kit. The songs, whilst different from each other, follow the same quiet, loud, quiet, loud dynamic and they do have a tendency to run into each other.

Whilst not a must have or instant classic I do recommend this purchase, certainly one for fans of the heavier end of the spectrum and an album for those willing to experiment. This band would be equally at home sharing a stage with Pelican, Russian Circles or Fen. From what little information I was able to glean from the Internet they are in the process of finding a vocalist but they absolutely don’t need one. At the moment they have a unique sound gleaned from a young-ish, fertile scene and it will be interesting to see where they take their sound next.

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