Just over ten years ago, heavy metal was at its unquestionable, unmoveable paramount. Slayer, Pantera and to an extent, Metallica all ruled the roost, and for everyone else, that was fine. Up and coming bands such as Sepultura and even a very young, pre-Corey Slipknot were shining to keep this legacy going, but few bands could knock these three off the top. Then suddenly, Pantera split up, Slayer went silent for a few years and well, we all know the story of Metallica. Heavy Metal was suddenly out on its arse, and until recently has hardly had a look in since. It's surely an absolute relief then that bands such as Textures have come together and made Heavy metal the dogs bollocks once again, but the truly special thing is that this time, heavy metal has gone progressive, spacey and atmospheric. Now, surely to a lot of hardcore Heavy Metal fans, this would sound like an absolute disaster, but it isn't, amazingly.
This is probably the Metal album of 2004 so far. Textures have everything you would expect from a band resurrecting Heavy Metal; Strong vocals, fantastic heavy metal riffs for any fan of melody and drum work that quite easily throws you off course, over and over again until you just can't take it anymore with it's knockout off beats and obscure timing. The thing that you most certainly don't expect is the wonderful use of synth and samples that still work brilliantly with this violently fast-flowing metal music.
The opening track 'Swandive' is possibly the best introduction to the band you could get, showing them in all their fury, giving a pretty fair review of everything the band can do, and then some. 'Ostensibly Impregnable' and 'Young Man' show the bands speed and death metal influences wonderfully in a giant's fistful. 'Transgression' flows wonderfully between riffs and a chillout saxophone solo which really does do the job perfectly.
The strangest thing about this album though is that it is 8 tracks in 55 minutes. And the first 6 tracks are all within 30 minutes. 4 of those 6 tracks are the band at their absolute most brutal, 'Transgression' has already been mentioned, and the other track is a 3 and a half minute Nine Inch Nails styled synth/sample instrumental. Now this is fine. But when considering that title track 'Polars' is an 18 and a half minute
constant battle between their two sounds, metal and atmospheric, you feel that the band are being just a tad too pretentious. Almost as if, this is far too much for a debut album, this is almost too good for a debut album, that this should have been left to a bit later in their careers, simply because this album is going to be extremely hard to beat next time.
The final track 'Heave' is simply a 14 minute instrumental, which is pretty much part two of 'Effluent' the first instrumental. This album sets the barriers at some extreme ends of the spectrum, an album you can let some intense anger out at, and yet at the same time could soothe any beast. It truly is special. However, due to the inevitable action of making heavy metal progressive, it may take some time for the original fans of the genre to enjoy this. However, regardless of what genre this album falls in to, and whether they really will be able to do something as good as this next time, Textures are here to stay.