Review Summary: A prog metal album that sounds most rewarding at its most straight forward, but that doesn't mean it's too simple.
Kansas City progressive metal duo Aerodyne Flex offer quite the package. Being that their free of charge debut, Transmissions, features studio quality production rather than sloppy lo-fi fuzz. The instrumentation also feels a cut above MIDI loops and synthesised guitars, even though some of the drums come off as programed at times. With that out of the way this still sounds like a prog metal release and while boasting some impressive vocal chops and some fancy soloing, there are moments of cliche and excess that hinder a focused listen.
The album opens up with its worst offender “Strange Vessels” which switches up time signature faster than the speed of light. If feels a bit cartoonish hearing the time signature or drum beat dramatically change every now and then. Following tracks suffer from being cliche and overworked.“Downpour” opens up nice with some soothing drones and anthemic guitar but continues to tread across choppy waters.“Carbon” is one of the album’s biggest offenders featuring a staggering breakdown that ruins the song’s pace, which is then followed up by a pleasant but unfitting post rock soundscape. However with these flaws present, there’s still a sense of interplay between the instruments which can still allure a dedicated listener. And the vocals are for sure something to write about. Skylar Nohrenberg isn’t the harshest or nastiest metal belcher out there but he can adapt to many styles from time to time. He’ll go from his regular mid range style into something resembling a death growl and even a banshee call. It has been done before but Nohrenberg does it with such a smooth transformation from one style to another.
It’s not until “Oni” where the album picks up with its opening riff that drags in a listener to pay attention, being rewarded with a soundscape that fits this time. “Reach” brings on the solos that will glisten throughout the rest of the album. Solos that sound great while not being too indulgent. The album finishes with a 20 minute title track split up into 4 parts Tim Hecker style.
This features some of the strongest songcraft on the album especially in its longest part “Lose” which features all of the aspects that made Transmissions strong and brings it all together for an enthralling finale. Even though the last part is a tad anti climatic it still delivers.
Aerodyne Flex have all the ideas going for them to be a stellar progressive metal outfit, but Transmissions has almost too many ideas looming around. When the prog staple aspects are brought down a tad the album then has some great material to listen to. This will probably be a better listen for background music rather than something to hunker down and immerse yourself into. Still it offers some great soloing and interplay, and the vocalist can truly belt. There’s still a ways to go. Let’s hope they continue to go that way further.