Review Summary: An excellent achievement of progressive rock music that stands out with its instrumental originality and cohesiveness.
Seeing the growth of an artist is always a pleasurable experience and Michael Smith of Trvth and Crevice has definitely shown a different side of his musical creativities. Originally starting out as a guitarist around his mid teens, Michael quickly gained a passion for creating his own music; amongst which, being a self taught musician. It wasn't until years down the road in his mid 20's when he decided to start releasing some of his creations in album formats for the world to hear. His musical roots of death metal, progressive-rock, classical, jazz, and blues led him to start an acoustic-folk project called Crevice, which allowed him to show a more subtle approach of melancholy using only his acoustic guitar and occasional vocals. The acoustic progressive-folk project then led to his latest release of Alpha
under Trvth, which contains a full "bands" assortment of instruments including electric guitars, bass, drums, keyboards, and a frequent use of vocals.
still contains the melancholic derivative's of Crevice but progressive natures are able to be taken to further depths with the use of harmonies, leads, and dynamic shifts that weren't possible on his acoustic-folk project. It's interesting to note that Michael's death metal influence doesn't show at all in Alpha
, which I figured is a good testament to an artist's outlook; they don't have to always create the same style of music that they are always influenced by. That's not to say that there aren't plans for a more upfront-metal approach, but we'll get to that later.
So now that we've arrived to the present, Alpha
is a cohesive effort of well-blended, progressive-rock tracks. Each track contains something unique and creative. From the beginning, "Chasing Scepter" uses a blend of melodic harmonies in a lugubrious fashion. Michael's vocals, while not up to his potential, due to his living situation and recording capabilities at that time, fit the music well and give an extra element of enjoyability. It's important to note that Michael is not a trained vocalist and does fall out of pitch from time to time but a certain level of honesty usually makes up for any lack of technical ability. His vocal approach here is utilized in lower tones and falsettos. The main thing that would make for a more enjoyable experience would be if the vocals were blended better into the mix with more reverb.
As mentioned earlier the creative and original factors really show in the compositions and more specifically the guitar harmonies; this being most likely because Michael's roots and expertise are the guitars or strings. "Gateway to that Place" uses multiple techniques of clean-amp guitar strums and taping that all fits so cohesively together. There are various solos found throughout Alpha
that are always well placed and always tend to heighten songs rather than deterring them. The solo on "Gateway to that Place" is a mellow one that is held off till around the 8 minute mark which gives adequate time for the previous riffs to build off each other and draw the listener in, in a more efficient way. The solo in "Telling it How it Is" is held off until a dynamic, crescendo, groovy build up releases its tension with flowing leads. About 90% of Alpha's
compositions are without solos, so anyone with a "over-wank" problem shouldn't have any trouble here.
The 8 track LP-length is very appropriate here as most songs, being a progressive album, are usually on the lengthy side. There are only two tracks under the length of 8 minutes. Although the majority of tracks are lengthy, they feel much shorter than what they actually are which is most likely due to each tracks ability to draw you in and create an almost zone-like listening experience. "Telling it How it Is" and the closer, "First of Its Kind", are notable tracks due to their various textures that play off each other and build in such unforceful ways, making them excellent tracks to just chill out to or keep in the background to enhance the moods of friends who may be visiting you at your house. One element that threw me off in a good way was the use of a death metal vocal passage to transition building riffs into a solo in the middle of "Telling it How it Is". These moments, however sporadic they are, breathe tasty moments of originality which are perfect uppers throughout the album to keep you interested and wondering what's going to happen next. The level of predictability is very low. You usually have no idea how long a riff is going to play out for or what the next riff transition will be and this is ultimately how Alpha
succeeds; Trvth is likened to encounters of real life experiences and we all know life is completely unpredictable.
Speaking of unpredictability’s, it's impossible to listen to Alpha
without being thrown back, in a good way again, by the happenings of "Bitterness" and "Your Opposer Destroyed". With "Bitterness" we have an almost operatic baritone vocal approach, hovering over clean melodies of mellow despondence and backing doom-like drums. The vocals are completely decipherable on this track, as well as the rest of the album, but, here we hear disseminations of an individual expressing their dissatisfaction for life and their existence with words like "why, from the womb, did I not proceed to die" and "for by now I should have lain down that I might be undisturbed". These lyrics of disdain fit very well in the context of Alpha
as we run through themes of haughty individuals moving into power, unveilings, and the ultimate eradication of self and surroundings. This leads us perfectly into the classical/snynth masterpiece, "Your Opposer Destroyed". This is probably the most depressive yet beautifully expressed track on the album, besides being entirely instrumental. The song conveys feelings similar to that of oppressive bearings being lifted of your back after years of continuance. Although depressive, "Your Opposer Destroyed" contains unique facets of joy, but in a very humble way. This track is nothing short of amazing and is a must hear as it really shows Michael's creative abilities and piano/keyboard techniques.
With an album that shows the creative heights of Michael under Trvth and one that, amongst the progressive/music community, is a shining gem of abundance in the compositional departments; showcasing a controlled/mature level/balance of experimentalism and intransigence. Anyone wishing to listen to music that has depth, meaning, and intelligence should be looking no further. Only the future will tell what Michael can accomplish but with a foundation like Alpha
he's created an outstanding starting point. There has even been mentioning’s of a thrash/progressive album in the works so hopefully he'll stay "trve" to his passion of creativity and musical furtherance.