Review Summary: Straight and to the point Progressive Metal that packs a punch.
Sweden. Oh how I am in debt to thee. It seems that every other week Sweden gives birth to another band that's capable of churning out quality metal from the get-go. As of late many of these bands are forgoing the oversaturated Gothenburg style Melodic Death Metal sound, that many believed to have peaked some years ago, in favor for a more technical and progressive sound, ala Swedish Progressive Metal titans Opeth. Formed in 2003, Kristinehamn, Sweden's Memfis have decided to venture down this path and their 2006 debut, The Wind-Up
, is a quality slab of Progressive Metal that brings to mind the likes of Burst, Opeth, and Mastodon.
Memfis, like many of the new Progressive Metal bands to emerge in the last couple of years, are highly indebted to their influences. The first comparison that can be made right off the bat is to Opeth. Many of the riffs that are found on the album would sound comfortably at home on Still Life
as they have the same churning, attention demanding drive that Opeth perfected over a decade ago. On "Forever Discounted" the aforementioned guitar stylings even open up into a clean sung section with an Akerfeldtian, sustain rich, jazz influenced solo that, even though its a fittingly beautiful way to end the song, reeks of hero worship. Another influence that it is easy to pick out is Mastodon, especially in the band's lead guitar work. With it's galloping speed and hypnotic harmonies, the intro to "Dead Ends" would fit perfectly on any of Blood Mountain's
more technical tracks.
Fortunately for Memfis, and the listener, there is more to The Wind Up
than just Opeth inspired riffing and Mastodon-esque leads. The songs on The Wind-Up
move at a frenetic pace. The album's first track, "Breathless", perfectly demonstrates these shifts in structure when it goes straight from a crushing Doom inspired riff into a jagged breakneck clean that sounds like it was lifted directly from the jazzy assault of The Dillinger Escape Plan's "43% Burnt". Its this schizophrenic cluster*** of influences and their ability to show up at anytime that helps propel The Wind-Up
to more than just the sum of its parts. It keeps it constantly entertaining and it keeps you guessing whats next.
Another factor that contributes to the album's enjoyability is the song length. The average song is only about three and a half minutes long, which is almost unheard of with most Progressive Metal bands having songs that can often reach over ten minutes in length. These shorter songs allow Memfis to constantly pack a punch. None of the songs overstay their welcome and as soon as Memfis are out of ideas, they move on to the next track instead of forcing it going with needless repetition or interrupting ambiance.
The only thing that can occasionally be hit or miss with Memfis are the vocals. The main vocal styling is a harsh, hardcore influenced shout that is vaguely similar to those in The Ocean. For the most part this works, especially during The Wind-Up's
faster moments, but when the music drifts into the sludgier side of things it just seems out of place. Not that its bad, but the music would be better suited with more of a growl. For diversity's sake, the harsh vocals are broken up with intermittent cleans that range from sounding like Opeth's Mikael Akerfeldt to Alice In Chains' Layne Stayley depending on what mood is trying to be created.
Any fan of modern Metal would be doing themselves a favor by picking up The Wind-Up
. Even heavy music fans that are usually put off by more progressive leaning music should enjoy this due to its constant punch and concise run time. And sure, while listening to the The Wind-Up
it is apparent that Memfis isn't the most innovative band in the world of Progressive Metal, but with all of what the band is able to pack into their debut's 38 minute run time it more than makes up for it.