Review Summary: Colors re-imagined. Heavier, deeper, broader.
Spastic time changes, oscillations between clean, melodic solos and pounding riffs, and an extreme technical proficiency are nothing new in the field of progressive metal. Aerodyne Flex pepper in quite a few things to make the sound their own, however, and it seems to work to a powerful degree. While the recipe may already be spicy enough for some, tossing in that extra degree of soft guitar and bass interplay (most prominently featured on "Transmissions II: Loss"), post-rock style soundscaping, and down-tuned polyrhythmic riffing (ala Tesseract and the djent concept) makes it that much more enjoyable - as does the simple truth that Anthony Garcia and company are extraordinarily talented musicians and songwriters.
It's clear from the high-quality electronic vibrations that lead into the clean overture of "Strange Vessels," propelled almost immediately into a more complex melodic theme (highly reminiscent of "Prequel to the Sequel") that Transmissions
has the same kind of power and direction as Between the Buried and Me's much-lauded Colors
. In truth, it's as if Aerodyne Flex has taken the principle of Colors
and expanded it into a heavier beast at its darkest moments by going those few notes lower while making it a lighter, more progressive one at its brightest by expanding on melodic sections and inserting broader clean and quiet instrumental soundscapes.
And make no mistake, the album constantly flows from those dark, crushing rhythms overdubbed with weighted and compressed leads to low-key, warm, laid back tones that allow the album to wash over the listener in a different way just long enough to give power back to those heavy moments. In each situation, the lead guitar dominates the sound with acoustic passages reminiscent of Animals as Leaders' more subdued, jazzy moments ("Stills") to those Between the Buried and Me inspired themes and heavy melodies. The rhythm guitar, meanwhile, brings the Tesseract and Corelia inspired dark polyrhythms and, at its softer points, the drawn-out and sustained clean tones of the post-rockesque soundscaping.
The bass is, at times, a bit low in the mix (as in the start of "Downpour"), though the instrument finds a unique use adding breadth and depth to the tone of the rhythm guitars by providing an extra low note or two to that heavy riff crashing along in the background. And of course, as previously mentioned, there are particular moments during the band's interludes, where the bass provides a brilliant groove that propels the sustained plucking of the guitars and mingles with them to bring out the best the strings section has to offer. Drums, meanwhile, vary from a simple beat here and there, working to strip down the sound and contribute to its primal sense of rhythm, to complex fills that rival most drummers in the industry today.
While it's hard to call Transmissions
an easily accessible album by any means, Skyler Nohrenberg's vocals are, perhaps, the most difficult to immediately get into. While his growls are nothing new to this sound and, again, are easily comparable to those of Tommy Giles Rogers of Between the Buried and Me, the manner in which they contrast with the high melodies of the sound can be daunting at first listen. But over time the vocals grow to fit into their own niche of the musical puzzle, providing yet another low undercurrent for the lead guitars to ride upon.
All in all, Transmissions
, for all of its BTBAM influence comes across as its own beast - one that should be viewed as a forerunner among peers like Tesseract's One
and Corelia's Nostalgia
. Perhaps to some, the ideas executed on this album will seem simple or obvious, but in all honesty, sometimes the simplest ideas are the ones that sound the best.