Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Pyramaze - Contingent (2017)

Pyramaze is one of those bands that has gotten a lot of good recognition over the years, but for reasons unknown, I have been late on the band wagon, not picking up the band on my radar until their 2015 release "Disciples of The Sun". Could be because that album took seven years to make, giving the band an extended time of inactivity, or just the fact that I have a knack for missing out on bands for too long (Persefone, Fallujah, and Anciients are just some examples). While I did not get blown away by "Disciples of The Sun", it had enough quality to make me open my eyes, and make sure to follow the band in the future.

Fortunately for me, it did not take them another seven years to make a new record, only two years was enough to create the follow up known as "Contingent", and it has all of the elements that I got to know from its predecessor. It is progressive power metal with lots of hooks and melody thrown into it all. It is a lot of ingredients for a sound that is relatively simple and straight forward, but the band manages to hold it within the frames, keeping a solid sound.

I think the strong point with Pyramaze is how epic they manage to make all the songs feel, without going for any long songs or big climaxes. The production is one reason to this, it is bombastic, turning up everything to the max to make every song pop out of the speakers. The other reason is the singer Terje Harøy, who gives his all with his high pitch and powerful approach. He is still relatively new in the band, but I think he fits in nicely, complementing the rest of the guys with a cool vocal style that is undoubtedly classic power metal stuff, but still pretty original in its performance.

Close to all of the songs on "Contingent" are between 4-6 minutes long, except for a duo of needless interludes (named "Contingent" part I and II), and a duet ballad towards the end that is just over three and a half minutes (The Tides That Won't Change), so I think the progressive aspect is not that great to be honest, it is just taking a back seat and interrupts a little here and there. No, this album is more straight forward, and is relying on strong, catchy songs that you hopefully will remember for some time. There are a couple that do get to me, the opener "Land of Information" has a really nicely built chorus and some great instrumentation, while "20 Second Century" is both heavy and epic, once again thanks to Terje's passionate performance on the vocals.

Then we have "Kingdom of Solace", a song that drove me completely nuts because the main riff reminded me a lot of a song I could not for the life of me remember. I did eventually figure out that it was more or less stolen from Scar Symmetry's "Artificial Sun Projection" from the "Holographic Universe" album, so I am very relieved that that is out of the way. How is the knock off? Not bad at all, but it is really hard to enjoy it without humming that fantastic Scar Symmetry chorus.

Ultimately, I think the song list in general is really nice, pretty even all around, but there is a lot of songs that sounds pretty much the same, which leads me to my main complaint of "Contingent", it is too monotone. It could have used a lot more diversity instead of just a simple ballad at the very end of the record and a couple of dumb little instrumentals, changing up the pace so that it does not feel so stiff. It is really a shame, because in its whole, "Contingent" is a fine record that should appeal to both normal metal fans and a slightly broader audience. My personal views of the band are still unchanged, that they have a lot of potential and a sound that is cool and all, but might be slightly over hyped (I should probably check their back catalog to get a better understanding myself). Still, I enjoyed "Contingent", and you probably will too, especially if you pluck out the raisins out of the cake.

Songs worthy of recognition: 20 Second Century, Land of Information, Nemesis

Rating: 7/10 Obsessions

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