Review Summary: Being front a new, space-inspired progressive metal sound. While the group works out the bugs, their future looks as bright as the stars.
There's a certain kind of music that has always lent itself to the incorporation of spacey science fiction lyrics. And the name of the game is progressive rock. That whole lyrics ballgame has been played as early as Hawkwind and Rush, but seems to have recently picked up steam with an electronica infusion and heavily processed vocals. It seemed to work out well for Last Chance to Reason earlier in the year when they released Level 2
, and now it seems that Being have come to the plate with a similar if not slightly more ambitious sound.
I say more ambitious because, as interesting as Level 2
was at times, it played a safe and steady game of similarly minded tunes with little variation. On the other hand, Being's Arrival
EP (confusingly marketed only as an "Early Preview") takes more risks by varying its use of vocal production, electronics, song structure, and tone. However, it's also apparent that Being are early on in their career, as sometimes their structures deviate a bit too much from any sort of norm, while the sound on the album ranges from power metal to pure progressive to djent.
While remaining one of the few relatively constant features of the band, vocalist Cas Haruna's tone moves from a mostly clean and soaring sound at the onset of the album (particularly in "Cosmonaut" where he and the rest of the band truly shine) to a tone that rarely leaves the comfort of vocoder and autotune effects. While it's hard to deny that Cas's voice sounds great in either form, there are a few points in the album where the effects and heavy layering completely drowns his voice, as on a portion of "DNA" and for the majority of "A Glorious Dawn," where spoken portions and a majority of the lower singing sounds incredibly robotic - similar to a Stephen Hawking drone. Yet at the same time, there's something endearing and admirable about the group taking a slower, more electronic pace to that particularly science-laced track and playing with Haruna's vocals. While the gambits usually pay off or are at least questionable, the robotics kick in with full force on follow-up track "Story For A Muse," which sounds like a sci-fi ripoff of a Falconer track, replete with power metal cheese.
It's discrepancies like this that makes you want to scratch your head. Being easily have the progressive metal chops to innovate in the area: the drumming is solid, the solos are bright and fresh, keyboard passages are majestic and appropriately spacey, while the basswork is audible and groovy. However, the band, at times, shows a lack of direction by tossing in songs that pull just a little too hard in the direction of a different genre. "Story For A Muse" is one of them, but there's also the initial hard electronic/spoken word/science rock vibe from "A Glorious Dawn" that can be hard to overcome on the first few listens; as well as the chugging djent tone and screaming vocals of closing track "Arcane Academic." Both of these tracks are good in their own right, but feel just far enough out of place to clearly mark that Being still aren't entirely sure of themselves and that their sound is still a work in progress. With a little taming, this will be a very good thing, since it will lead to a band with a passion for musical development, but in its current wild state it upends the record a bit.
So what do you really end up with here? On the aptly-titled Arrival
, Being provide an interesting and relatively fresh take on the spacey progressive metal sound, incorporating plenty of electronics, keyboards, and vocal processing to change up the sound while still tossing on the expected solos, instrumental breaks, bass grooves, and light, spacey atomspheric sounds. There's some detraction through overproduction, some somewhat subtle sense of a band that's still discovering their own identity (despite their very clear direction), and a lot of experimentation. At the end you're really left with what's a preview of a very promising yet still developing band that could deliver an album that brings space rock to the forefront of the metal arena through pioneering new dynamics. Arrival
is simply a chance to be in at the ground level and watch the band's rise from the beginning.