Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Nova Collective - The Further Side (2017)

Prog metal has evolved a lot over the years, twisting and turning into different shapes and sizes. Two of the bands that has led the charge are the Americans in Between The Buried And Me and the British band Haken, in different fronts as well. Haken is the more traditional band, taking inspiration from the past and future to create great epic pieces, while BTBAM is more on the extreme side of things, creating opuses that is inspired by acts like Queen, Rush, and Pink Floyd, but infusing blast beats and harsh vocals into it. Both bands are among my favourites, so you could probably imagine that my inner prog nerd went bananas when hearing the rumours of a collaboration project with origins from both bands.

BTBAM bassist Dan Briggs and Haken guitarist Richard Henshall started exchanging ideas back in 2014, and when the two bands toured through Europe last year, I can only assume that the discussions between them got all the more serious. So they teamed up with former Haken keyboardist Pete Jones and drummer Matt Lynch (whom is playing with Dan in another band called Trioscapes), and created Nova Collective, an instrumental prog project that is made from both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.

Sound wise, it should come as no real surprise that we are more talking about proggy jazz fusion here. When I say it is not surprising, it is because of two reasons, one being that most of these mini prog projects are of this variety, and the second one being that both main composers are obviously fans of that type of music (most prog artists are tbh). So it is safe to say that this is not an album that will please all of the fans of Haken and BTBAM. There is no elements of metal in here, nor is there very little hints of influences of the main bands, so it might be hard to swallow if you are more metal than prog.

However, I think that every fan should give this album a chance, because there are some really neat stuff in here. Even if "The Further Side" (boy, that title sounds like they stole it from the "Insidious" franchise) only contains six songs, there is still a lot of meat to the bone. All of the songs have a minimum play time of 5 and a half minutes, with three going past the 9 minute mark, and the content within those minutes have a lot of depth to it as well, displaying some impressive playing.

All six songs are pretty similar, which makes "The Further Side" feel more like one big song instead, but the band still manages to put out some distinct differences here and there. We got some really nice bass riffs and Dream Theater like chaos in "Ripped Apart And Reassembled", and the opening song "Dancing Machines" has a lot of key work that is fantastic, and it also has a middle part where the guitar gets to shine, almost shredding to some degree. So even if I probably will remember "The Further Side" for its full picture, it does have details that are really nice.

Ultimately, I do not find anything in "The Further Side" that is either surprising or innovative, it mostly feels like fusion improvisation with some small hints of the members' main bands, which in itself is not a bad thing, it is just safe in my opinion. Oh well, "The Further Side" is still a neat listen that I think fans of both Haken and BTBAM should give a honest chance. The opening song alone is well worth the price, and both Dan and Richard shows off enough of their main influences in here to make it honest. A nice little side step from your normal metal reality.

Songs worthy of recognition: Dancing Machines, Ripped Apart And Reassembled

Rating: 7/10 States of Flux

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