Review Summary: Metalcore's latest enigma.
There is a particular moment in the last minute or so of ‘Quantum Flux’ where the band drops out save for a fluctuating guitar chord, after which an extreme vortex like noise bursts the song back into a triumphant chorus of both layered clean and harsh vocals. It is a moment that is probably indistinguishable from the humdrum layered like aura the band has so carefully constructed on this and previous album Discoveries, but it comes as a telling sign of Northlane’s affection for atmosphere, and Singularity
acts as an album to only deepen the band’s handle of it. However, the songs here are rooted in complacency, and dynamically the album doesn’t vary much. Singularity is a throng of style over substance, production over character, and texture over poignancy.
is an album that probably won’t separate the band form their genre cohorts; however, it acts as a foot rung for the band to gain added exposure to an ever increasing amount of fans. The band work very well in sync with one another, particularly accentuated by a ridiculously good drummer, and have a firm handle on tones and textures. The bass is perhaps drowned out a little too much, which is a shame because it was very pronounced on debut Discoveries
. Although songs are constructed eerily similar to one another, there are some moments of pure class; mostly indebted to the layering of guitars and textures the band are so keen to execute. ‘Winderbreaker’ opens with a riff scarily reminiscent of Underoath’s ‘The Impact of Reason’ (an association the band would sure be loath to suggest), yet the guitarists are clever enough to evolve the riff into something more sporadic and convoluted. ‘Worldeater’ has a gorgeously transcendent conclusion – a personal highlight of the album. The layering of the threading lead lick over dissonant hanging arpeggios of the other guitar is a masterstroke; one that really should have been more used in other songs on the album.
Weaknesses are most apparent in first impressions. It’s not that far-fetched to suggest the band are playing a little too much to live audiences with the abundance of heavier sections and down-tuned riffs. With a plethora of contemporary metalcore acts, the general attitude this album may receive may come down to its association with similar thug-headed bands and augmentation of metalcore clichés. Another Australian metalcore band? Really? It is the inevitable attitude that comes with approaching an album that boast further dropped tuning, an abundance of breakdowns and down-tuned riffs that suggests that this will fail to deliver. Although this is altogether not an accurate representation of Singularity
, elements of this argument can be found here and there.
Metal is never renowned for lyrics, and it’s no exception here. Fitipaldes half-hazardly blows through metaphysical aphorisms and oft times delving into carpe diem-isms but the lyrical themes are too varied and hastily strung together that any coherence can only be a guess. A continuation from Discoveries’ lyrical themes, solipsist thought is a reoccurring theme; ‘I am here, I am one, I am everything you’ve ever known’. Fitipaldes allows himself to be too abstract, and the poignancy of the lyrics suffers for it. And then we have gems like these; ‘you’re just a two faced piece of ***!’ Delightful.
On the whole, Singularity
is a frustrating album. This is an album that is absolutely sublime in its production and mastering, and yet with a bit more substance it could have made a very, very decent album. Things such as the perfunctory deadened guitars drag down a brilliant closer in ‘Aspire’, and the lyrics in places cease to have direction, where they could have constructed a bit more conceptually. The album cover depicting pyramids and floating cubes is a further head scratcher; it comes close to being an overblown pretentious foray into ‘meaning’ yet the highlights in production and top-notch instrumentation skills save face. Northlane are a talented band, the missing pieces might just be a clear direction with what they mean to say with each album, and meatier substance in songwriting rather than continually assaulting sonic stylishness.