Review Summary: "Reticence: The Musical" is a progressive metal masterpiece that combines elements of not only progressive metal, but also jazz and classical to create a very unique sound and style that will surely leave you impressed.2 of 6 thought this review was well written
This is "Reticence: The Musical", the debut album by progressive metal act Art By Numbers. This band is a 5 piece that combines everything from classical to jazz to straight up progressive metal to create an incredibly unique sound that has really breathed new life into the over-satured genre that is the current progressive metal scene. Drawing influence from bands such as Between the Buried and Me and The Human Abstract, you know these guys are bound to create something truly epic. Prepare yourself for a long-winded, lengthy, and thorough review.. I've got a lot to say.
Mentioning The Human Abstract, the guitarists of this band (Victor Corral and Dustin Georgeson) both are former students of A.J. Minette, renowned guitar virtuoso of The Human Abstract. And not only does their teachings shine through on this release, the influences run deep as well as you will hear many pieces on this record that sound like they could have been written by A.J. himself.. And that's no easy task, and by no means a bad thing. Art By Numbers do not try to rip off the style or sound of The Human Abstract.. No, instead they create a unique sound that will certainly leave your jaw on the floor after you finish listening to the masterpiece that is Reticence: The Musical.
Art By Numbers take great pride in keeping the melodic element in their sound, and they do that very well throughout the record. The opening track, "Delusions of Grandeur" will give a damn good idea of how the album will sound. Reminding me heavily of The Human Abstract's latest release "Digital Veil", this song features fantastic technical lead guitar work throughout the song. As the song progresses, it adds piano to the mix, and this begins the introduction of classical elements into the music. Not only does the guitar stay heavy yet melodic, it flows perfectly with the beautiful piano pieces behind it.
Not to glorify the guitar playing too much or to take away from the other pieces of the band, the drumming is rock solid and should never fail to impress as Dennis Peraza does a fine job at creating polyrhythms and basically providing the groundwork for the technical guitar parts being played over it. The vocals from Anthony James are also very impressive, and he has a fantastic voice.. And he isn't afraid to show it off. The second track of the album, "The Man in the Box" really shows off his pipes, as Anthony sings beautifully over the heavy-as-hell music being played. This song also features what is, in my opinion, some of the best work this album has to offer. Ranging from very technical leads to heavy rhythmic patterns, this track should let you know by now that this band has some fantastic musicians in it, who truly know how to write awe inspiring progressive metal.
Piano stays as a constant instrument found on the record, and it's very neat because not many bands do that. Most seem too frightened to step outside their comfort zone and add such an odd instrument to the mix.. When it comes to metal, that is. You won't find too many metal bands that incorporate piano as heavily as Art By Numbers do. This alone will set this band apart.
Going back to the guitar playing, it will give you a lot to take in over the course of the album. Victor and Dustin really show off their technical abilities in every song, utilizing sweeps that are very reminiscent of The Human Abstract, and heavy, yet refined polyrhythmic guitar work to back it. There's no shortage of fascinating musicianship here. Never does a lead feel out of place, or like it went too far in terms of technicality.. They keep it at a perfect level of both technicality and melody. The leads are always incredibly complex and technical, but they never forget to have the melodic approach as well.
"Venice Is Sinking" is a prime example of the technical yet melodic touch of the lead playing.. As both guitarists are utilizing what sounds like tapping to not only create an awesome melody for the music, but also fulfill the progressive and technical approach that guitarists will want to hear. This will most likely impress fans of The Human Abstract and Protest the Hero.
The track "Best Laid Plans" is where the jazz influence begins to shine through in the music, as the entire track sounds like it's been written by a jazz-fusion band gone metal. This song features some incredible sweeping on the guitar, as well. Anthony also has some unique vocal work on this track, going into a pretty high register with his voice.. Which led this song to be one of my favorite pieces of vocal work on the whole album. If you're not impressed by the end of this track.. Something is wrong.
The classical influence returns again on the track "Au Revoir" which is in all honesty just a track filled with beauty in musical form.. Beginning with soft piano and violin work, drums slowly begin to come in, and soon after the guitar comes in with full force and just creates a massive soundscape filled with beauty and melody. The vocal work on this track reminds me very much of Daniel Tompkins, the former vocalist of TesseracT and current vocalist of bands such as Skyharbor, Absent Hearts, and Haji's Kitchen. The chorus in this song is just lush, with many layers of vocals going at once, chanting "We are falling in circles", it's honestly very beautiful and is a moving track to say the least. It's fantastic when a band that can go so hard and heavy on other tracks will slow it down a bit and focus on a very melodic track full of beautiful instruments. This is easily one of the standout tracks off the album and one of my favorite tracks I've heard all year.
The track following the masterpiece that was "Au Revoir", "Panacea", is one of my other favorite tracks off the album. This song reminds me of what was heard on "Midheaven", the second album by The Human Abstract. Very classicaly inspired, full of fantastic lead guitar work, and heavy rhythm work to go right along with it. And not to mention, a ***ing awesome chorus. It's rather uplifting in nature, which is a complete turn around from what we heard on the previous track. The ending of the track gets heavy as hell, featuring some harsh vocals which have been completely absent up until this point on the album.
The vocals on this album do stay clean 99% of the time, and that's perfectly fine with me. That's something that made "Digital Veil" one of my favorite albums not only of 2011, but of all time.. The clean vocal work of Travis Richter. Anthony's vocals are quite similar to that of Travis in my personal opinion, and it's a perfect fit for this music. While most metal listeners tend to hate anything clean (God knows why, it's incredibly closed-minded), I'm the complete opposite.. I love clean vocals, and can only take some harsh vocals. "Black Water Rush" features a hint of harsh vocal work, so that may be a track you'd want to hear if you're into harsher vocals.
The tenth track "Nightfall" brings some acoustic guitar into the mix, alongside some chello work. This is another piece that shows off how this band can vary their sound and style.. "Nightfall" features no vocals and remains an instrumental track, and also features no drumming or electric instruments. Some may not find this appealing, but I personally think it's yet another unique song by a very unique band.
"Memoire Insuffisante", the next track on the album, is one of the most classically inspired tracks on the album. Once again, very reminiscent of "Midheaven" material, and in ways similar to "Digital Veil" material. Again, the lead guitar is just.. Amazing. The leads practically never stop, and just add so much to the music overall.
And that brings us to the closer of the album, "Twelve Days". This is a strong close to a fantastic album. This is another song that includes harsh vocals, and they are utilized with subtlety but still used well. This track features some of the best sweeps you'll hear on the entire record towards the end of the track as well. Definitely one of my favorite tracks off "Reticence: The Musical".
Moving past the actual content of the album, the production and mix is top notch. It was done by Jamie King, who you may know as he has worked with the likes of Between the Buried and Me and The Human Abstract previously. The guitars have fantastic tone and sit right in the center of the mix, and do feel like the center of attention which is appropriate for the style. The drums don't stand out too far nor do they sit too far back in the mix, something that many bands seemingly have trouble with, the drums are right in place where they should be. Production is tight and lush, there's plenty of dynamic to the record, and that is something you must have for this style of music in my personal opinion. Props to Jamie King for more great work.
Long ass story short: BUY THIS ***ING ALBUM. Not only does "Reticence: The Musical" feature incredible instrumentation and vocal work, the band proved that they can write a masterpiece that is truly unique and features a sound you won't hear anywhere else.
I've listened to the album numerous times at this point, and I can safely say it is hands-down one of, if not the, best album I've heard this year. Art By Numbers are nothing shy of phenomenal.
If you're a fan of The Human Abstract, Protest the Hero, Corelia, Haunted Shores, Periphery, or TesseracT (Long list of bands, I know), you are bound to enjoy this band and this album. The influences are rather obvious at some points, but in no way is that a bad thing. Both guitarists were taught by the master A.J. Minette, and it shows. Their technical prowess feels unmatched by other musicians in this style of music.
Art By Numbers made something very special here with their debut "Reticence: The Musical", and this isn't an album you want to miss out on. This is a unique blend of classical, jazz, technical metal, melodic metal, and progressive metal.
This album gets a pefect 5/5.. Something I wouldn't normally give. I truly enjoyed it that much, and I hope that you will as well.
Must hear tracks: "Au Revoir", "Twelve Days", "Memoire Insuffisante", and "Panacea".