Review Summary: “Dualism” finds Textures embracing their math metal roots with a way lighter tone and a more melody-driven approach to their sound.
Textures have been one of the most promising metal acts since the moment of their inception in 2003. They are among a handful of math metal bands who have managed to differentiate themselves from the herd of copycats. Their style oscillates between the brutal technicality of Meshuggah and atmospheric sludge that's reminiscent of some Neurosis albums. The vocals that range from full fledged growls to fairly melodic singing are another feature that became their trademark overtime.
With their fourth album, “Dualism,” the Dutch sextet had to face the departure of vocalist Eric Kalsbeek and keyboardist Richard Rietdijk who have been respectively replaced by Daniel De Jongh (ex-CiLiCe) and Uri Dijk (Ethereal). These personnel changes had its influence on the band's overall soundscape that now revolves more around groove and deep tonal rhythms rather than technicality that was the chief component of sound on their previous release, “Silhouettes.” As a result, “Dualism” is Textures' least technical and most atmospheric album to date. It's easy to imagine some fans being dissatisfied with this direction. However, it goes without saying that the lighter tone and more extensive melodic passages make the album way more accessible even for those who are not really familiar with the genre. That's why, “Dualism” works perfectly fine as a gateway math metal album.
The inclusion of Daniel De Jongh seems to be the best decision the act could make at this point of their career. De Jongh has proved himself to be more than a capable replacement with his amazing work on CiLiCe's “Deranged Headtrip.” Now, his contribution to Textures is nothing less than reinvigorating. Not only is he an incredibly versatile singer who's equally great at clean singing and at guttural screaming, but also his knack for melody is totally uncanny. This results in numerous standout moments on the album. One of them is the entire performance in “Consonant Hemispheres” where dreamy crooning smoothly transitions into dynamic, hard rock-induced lines that build up to ballsy growling. Another one encompasses the flamboyant vocal melody in down-tuned “Foreclosure” which is an outstanding intro to the genre-shifting closer, “Sketches From A Motionless Statue.”
What's more, Textures still abstain from a traditional song structure in favor of much more adventurous compositions. Therefore, they fill every song with plenty of various influences. “Black Horses Stampede” starts with sludgy, Mastodon-like riff that makes its way to atmospheric progressive passages, whereas rather surprising instrumental “Building The Midnight Oil” has a very breezy post-rockish vibe. The band also sports some significantly more technical, polirhythmic tracks in “Sanguine Draws The Law” and “Singularity,” which both bear close resemblance to the material out of “Silhouettes” while retaining a way lighter tone.
Still, there's one serious fault that's inherent in the majority of longer compositions on the album. They often lack focus relying on riffs that are overly repetitive even for this kind of music. The opener, “Arms Of The Sea,” would be even more hard-hitting provided that it lasted two minutes shorter. Mellow “Reaching Home” simply overuses its fairly simplistic, yet quite addictive leading riff in its overlong 5-minute running time. Another minor drawback is the production which, while being totally competent, sometimes feels too sterile and devoid of necessary punch. The album certainly isn't as abrasive as some would like it to be.
All in all, “Dualism” finds Textures embracing their math metal roots with a much lighter tone and a more hook-driven approach to their sound. Even though the music is still appropriately complex and contains plenty of adventurous songwriting, it certainly has a new flamboyant vibe, which makes it potentially interesting for the new group of alternative metal listeners.