Review Summary: Welcome home! This is your home now.
Listed as on Bandcamp as "the rock solo project of Gabriel Lucas Riccio", one can assure you that this album can hardly be considered rock. This is something you should get out of your head almost immediately. Riccio went about this thing with a clear intent of genre-melding. His goal was to create a cohesive work that combined the elements of jazz, rock, classical, and metal to attempt to create something truly novel. How successful was Mr. Riccio? Well, from the incredibly dense vocal harmonies, to swirling violins, spurts of sax, to layers of dissonant guitar and piano over a ridiculous amount of complex rhythm, one could say he's come awfully close. And he's made sure of this success by being able to focus a menagerie of sounds into a pleasing and identifiable sound. The best part of this avant-garde buffet is that you don't feel too full afterwards.
To try and classify or compare Gabriel's music would be a mistake. It can loosely fall into the 'avant-garde' or 'progressive' categories of vagueness, but it truly is it's own entity. There are small similarities to other artist here and there, but basically this sounds like nothing else. Gabriel did graduate from Swarthmore College with a Bachelor of Arts in Music, perhaps lending some credibility to the originality at hand. Basically, this can be properly described as an absolute whirlwind of influence. The influence isn't obvious however, it's completely evident. The vocal melodies themselves can at times be very reminiscent of more melodic djent bands such as The Omega Experiment and Means End; but the instrumentation can bring to mind maudlin of the Well just as soon as it can call back some Rio in the stylings of Univers Zero. The instrumentation is aided by the inclusion of Travis Orbin (drums) and Thomas Murphy (bass) of Periphery. How in the hell did those guys get in here? I don't know, but their talent is perhaps showcased here better than it ever has before. This album can be a dense course to gulp down at times, and for some it may be an unpleasant digestion. Nonetheless, Riccio has spun a web of the baroque simultaneous with that of modern prog in a way we have not yet heard.
'Interior City' is a 10-track album that stretches about 70 minutes, which is just the right length for this type of affair. The concept of the album involves the idea of mental programming and how it can mean the loss of the individual. The album in turn is a representation of ripping through that veil of conformity and realizing one's potential. It's a rather vague concept, but I find it fitting in both the context of the music and the accessibility it has to a wide range of listeners. The album is opened by "Arrival in a Distant Land", which begins with dissonant piano before vocals enter and a beautiful melody sends the track on it's way. The vocals on this album are extremely consistent, and this is partially because most of the cleans are layered in the same way. After this first song, there's no turning back. What comes after is full fledged avant-garde; with many layers and seamless switches from atonal harmonies to uplifting melodies. The one fallback of this album is that some listeners will find it becomes harder to digest as it goes. The last two tracks possess the oddest melodies on the album. The album redeems this near the end of "Curing Somatization", where clean vocals combined with a soaring instrumental backdrop leaves the listener in a dreamworld. This song and "Defense Highway" are among the best on the album. The album comes to an almost perfect close with a reprise of the melody that's introduced in the first track. It works wonderfully.
The Gabriel Construct has crafted one of the best debuts you've never heard of. Even though the release is relatively new, Riccio deserves much more recognition for the work that he has created. It's as awe inspiring as it is fascinating to listen to, and one can't help but feel a strange, familiar energy in some of the sounds here. Riccio said himself that he wished “to create a work which encourages people to live with respect and compassion, both for the world around them and for themselves." Mr. Riccio, you've done a fantastic job.