Review Summary: Textures keep on maturing as a cohesive unit.
Three albums in, Textures, hailing from The Netherlands, have yet to make a lasting dent in the metal scene and achieve a solid standing despite slowly gaining recognition and fame. No doubt that "Silhouettes" will be an important album for Textures, further progressing from the already impressive "Drawing Circles" from 2006, but will it also be a decisive album? Using but a few words: no, the album is not a make or break victim. Textures continue to grow and expand on the sound they have honed to already be quite excellent, introducing a groovier and thrashier vibe, topping it off with rememberable melodies.
The second album to feature singer Eric Kalsbeek, Silhouettes brings a relatively similar approach to the vocal duties on its predecessor. Kalsbeek’s voice has a distinct color and tone which may not appeal to every listener, but could never be as divisive as Protest the Hero’s Rody Walker. The melodic vocals sound intricate and mature throughout (most notably on “Awake” and "Messengers"), while the shouts and screams are often emotionally maniacal and able to draw you further in (“The Sun’s Architect”). The sporadic implementation of gang shouts never feels forced or out of place, strengthening the unrelenting heaviness that Textures is able to portray at times. The vocals take a more prominent place in the mix this time, (which is a step up in production from Drawing Circles) but never feel overpowering or out of place.
Guitarists Jochem Jacobs and Bart Hennephof continuously demonstrate their abilities to keep the listener on the edge of his/her seat with unexpected slow-downs, extended pinch harmonics and the like. Shifting from a headbang-groove to a catchy, yet unpredictably rhythmic chord pattern, “Storm Warning” for instance proves itself to be an enticing listening experience, giving a good example of the diversity and songwriting charms these guys enjoy. The riffs are hardly ever predictable or marginally stale, with subtle leads being rightfully favored over shrelody or jazzy compositions.
Stef Broks is a truly remarkable man behind the kit, conveying a perfect balance between technicality and simplicity to give the material at hand all the more depth. Where “Laments of an Icarus” showcases a perfect blend of both takes on styling the rhythmic stampede, “Old Days Born Anew” will simply make drummers everywhere brim with excitement and still intrigue any uninitiated layman. The drumming definitely makes up a massive part of Silhouettes’ highlights and showcased talent.
For the most part the Dutchmen have a knack for using a palette of different sounds to form a cohesive package, yet the album is not without its faults. A very common error: Remko Tielemans’ bass is often hardly discernable, let alone audible. This is an absolute shame as it can elevate the especially groovy passages to newer heights. A perfect example of this is TesseracT’s music, where the prominent bass makes a world of difference. Next to this, a handful of songs are regrettably feeling like they drag on a little too long or rehash the same riff and rhythm just a tad too much. While it is hard to point out any actual filler material, songs like “State of Disobedience” can be too repetitive and droning for the listener to warrant multiple spins. While the album is largely extremely consistent at a high level, there are both few ups and few downs, making the material harder to appreciate it for what it really is.
Textures have at times been wrongfully dismissed as another 'Meshuggah clone'. Listening to the material at hand, this statement is void of wisdom entirely: willfully and consciously ignoring the layers, details and diversity of the sounds being thrown at you. There is instead a focus on the much overused idea of Meshuggah being solely responsible for the usage of polyrhythms in today’s metal scene, thus rendering any band that incorporates this nothing more than an 'imitator at best'. This is a narrow-minded approach that lacks intelligence. If anything, the band more closely resembles the variety and freakiness of Devin Townsend’s material utilizing thrashy and groovy rhythms. Textures know how to discern themselves without effort, providing a clear stand-out identity. Much of this achievement is thanks to Richard Rietdijk, who possesses an undeniable talent for composing ambient keyboard patterns that give the music an almost elegantly sophisticated and mature quality ( “Messengers”, “Awake”, “Erasing a Lifetime”), which in the end determines a great deal of the listener’s experience.
In the end Silhouettes is most definitely not material to be scrutinized and/or pigeonholed. Attempts to categorize this type of complex music will lead to an inevitable sense of disappointment for the listener. The new material on Silhouettes has become somewhat easier to digest despite its technicality, making accessibility a debatable point. One should wonder whether this should truly be raised as an issue, as it is quite often viewed as such in the metal community. Records which are hard to get into and follow are often praised for their inaccessibility as if it is meritable by definition. Don’t fall into this fallacious trap. Silhouettes does not permeate your mind on first listen, yet has the quality to grow on you faster than you would expect. Taking this into account a year after its release, Textures are able to keep that feeling and expand on it. This is the mark of a great album.
- Storm Warning