Review Summary: Prepare yourself for some beautiful and intense Intergalactic Space Djams
Substructure is a progressive deathcore band (Deathjent if you are so inclined) hailing from St. Louis, Missouri. Chances are you haven't heard of them, and chances are you won't forget them once you have.
This is some hard hitting ***. Not because Substructure rely on being particularly brutal, nor do they rely on the overuse of breakdowns or violent lyrics. Their impressive effectiveness lies in their clear understanding of contrast. Contrast is key to Substructure's sound, and it is fairly evident from the album's very first few seconds in the beautiful opener "Cassiopeia."
Substructure are set out to make space-themed deathcore (every track on "Monolith" being named after a constellation), and they do it quite well. Their almost cinematic sound relies largely on xylophone-like keys that are placed over the other instruments in the band. This creates a very large and open sound, or "spacey" if you will. This sound is also aided by the records absolutely stellar production value. Unlike many genre-blending progressive deathcore bands, substructure has a fairly unique and well focused sound. This is not to say that they are a one-note band playing the same thing over and over with small variations, rather their focus allows them to explore without wandering too far.
There isn't a second on the record that feels forced or unnecessary , which is a rare quality for progressive deathcore. Substructure are free to ebb and flow in whatever direction they want within this spacey and open sound. For several minutes on "Canis Major" (named after the constellation with a Latin name meaning 'greater dog') the band moves into a free form spacey rhythm that is relaxed without overstaying its welcome. These light sections are just as vital to the record as the heavier sections, and are all remarkably cohesive.
For the most part, every member of Substructure is put to good use. The vocals are nothing you haven't heard within the genre before, but they get the job done without a doubt. They lack a personal touch that allow them stand out from the deathcore crowd, but are still consistently impressive. This could be said for the drums as well. Instrumentally, the most amazing moments of the record belong to the almost painfully staccato guitars and the beautiful flowing keys. Both the guitars and keys are what give the band their distinct style, and when firing on all cylinders they often blossom into hectic and frantic climaxes.
"Monolith" is something special. It's an impressively cohesive and dynamic first release from a young band with a lot of potential. With an already well established identity, it's exciting to see what realms of space Substructure will venture to next.