Brazilian prog-metal anyone?
This is the debut album from the Brasilia four piece outfit who started out as a Dream Theatre cover band (quite an undertaking in itself!) and quickly gained a following thanks to the favourable reception their cover versions received on social media websites. They subsequently began composing and recording original material and have spent the last two years producing Uncivilized.
The mere mention of the words “prog” or “metal” on their own is enough to make certain folks run for the hills covering their ears and screaming “lalalalala”, let alone when spoken in combination! Progressive metalcore, progcore or whatever you choose to call it is enjoying a huge resurgence in popularity circa 2012 and there are many a band putting their own spin on the (sub)genre; some great, some not so great.
Uncivilized features very long tracks in the great tradition of prog greats Yes, E.L.P et al and they do have a rather epic odyssean quality to them which is quite appealing in itself.
The music is quite varied rhythmically, melodically and stylistically as you would expect from any band that has had the ink soaked PROG stamp liberally applied to it. Confusing polyrhythms are scattered throughout the album and they give it an impressive loping gait that seems to ask the listener “Hey we know what we’re doing, do YOU?” The guitar work is exemplary throughout proceedings with guitarist/producer Thiago Campos throwing about flurries of riffs and solos with consummate ease and he is matched in no small part by his bass playing brother Felipe. The drumming of Caco Gonçalves is also equally impressive, especially since the original tracks were composed on a drum machine and he had to learn them note for note for this record. He employs some frantic double kick parts and great rhythmic syncopation, particularly on his cymbals.
There are some fairly heavy moments, but they are nowhere near the speaker destroying weight of the likes of Meshuggah or Periphery. This is prog-metal in the original sense of the term. Their Dream Theatre roots are on display for all to hear, yet they somehow have honed a sound all their own. There are not many bands around who sound like this… and here’s why…
Uncivilized is not really a metal album. There are elements which will appeal to metal fans sure, particularly those of a power metal persuasion, but this album will be thoroughly enjoyed by fans of the glory days of prog. The era of ‘Crimson, Genesis, Yes, E.L.P., and Rush. There is much melody present throughout the entire album and while singer Denis Oliveira’s vocals won’t be to everybody’s taste being somewhat hand-over-heart sincere and semi-operatic they suit the music perfectly. There is also the ubiquitous use of keyboards, piano, and synthesizers which add invaluable atmosphere and density to the overall sound.
It’s not all show-off prog pyrotechnics either, there are plenty of melodic hooks and slower parts particularly in the track “Mourning” which provide a respite from the relative complexity of other parts of the album. Such is the length of the 7 tracks (mostly around ten minutes) on offer, there are many moods and elements to each. The tracks do lose direction a little at times with extended instrumental passages that become quite tiresome in certain tracks, but hey, this is prog rock! You wouldn’t be listening to it if you weren’t aware of the inherent risks! Funnily enough, much of it works very well as background music although I’m sure the band would be apoplectic at such a suggestion! In any case, lending an attentive ear certainly does net some enjoyable and impressive musical proficiency.
The mix is a little muddy in the mid-low end frequencies, although to be fair, I am listening in a low quality digital format. Thiago Coffani can only be congratulated on his production work given that this is a completely self-produced independent release with no label support whatsoever.
These minor deficiencies aside, while not an album for everyone, Uncivilised is, for the most part, a very impressive debut outing with enough flair for prog fans and enough crunch for metal fans. It will be beyond the comprehension of many casual listeners or fans of mainstream pop/rock, but prog always has been a relatively arcane art form appreciated by folks with an iconoclastic attitude toward popular music and I doubt Bad Salad would have it any other way.
Definitely a band to watch.