Review Summary: Sorin display plenty of potential energy just waiting to go kinetic on their debut EP.
By all indications, first impressions are important for Sorin, a brand new progressive metal 5 piece hailing from Northern California: New Heights, despite being the band’s debut, is a markedly ambitious and well-executed modern progressive metal record. Far from being a rough rehearsal demo, the performances on New Heights are impeccable and bolster a tight, sheeny production as is befitting modern progressive heavy metal of the last 10 years or so.
New Heights is decidedly modern in its apparent songwriting goals and clean, compressed production style; the influence of Between the Buried and Me, Periphery, Animals as Leaders and other lynchpins of modern progressive metal are very clear. The EP’s 2 minute intro track sports Cynic-like fusion flourishes before careening into thick, atmospheric riffwork, seamlessly leading into the quizzically titled second track “The Milk”, which is adorned with just about as strange a set of lyrics as one would expect of a metal song with such a strange title:
And when the time came
to unveil the shell / onions unfurl / like the devil not soaring
Day has come / Women have won
Arcane, apocalyptic feminism, among other interestingly bizarre lyrical topics, are articulated with a throaty, spitfire rasp delivered by vocalist Alex Light over a beefy staccato chug and slithering guitar leads. It’s a punchy, concise tune that manages to be kind of catchy amidst the duelling guitars and the crooked, staccato rhythm section.
The real centerpiece is the 16 minute long title track that closes the EP. The serpentine lead guitar is a highlight throughout the record, but on the monolithic riff-salad “New Heights”, guitarists Adesola Porter and Kevin Bowman fire on all cylinders as they burn through riff after riff, alternating between shimmering solos, melodic dual-guitar harmonies, and even a breakdown chug which has the taste to stick around just long enough to inject palpable energy in an already breathless, marathon-like piece, but not so long as to overstay its welcome (as breakdowns are oft to do). Light, however, is not to be upstaged by such manic 6-string virtuosity - he snarls his surreal, opaque lyrics without a hitch for nearly the entirety of the song. Underneath it all, drummer Curtis Scholar and bassist Skylar Wells provide a more than solid rhythm section.
Sorin’s compositional ambition and advanced technical skill are certain to raise some eyebrows, but New Heights often falls into the unfortunate tendency of modern metal bands of their ilk to overproduce. The record is immaculately clean sounding. For example, the drums, while deftly performed, appear to be heavily triggered; and the guitars, while obviously handled by talented players, sport a tone that’s sanded down and buffed to a sparkly sheen. Not a beat is missed; neither a note is fumbled, nor a kick drum misheard. There is ample potential energy locked up in New Heights, but perhaps a more organic and impolite sound will help Sorin unleash the kinetic power simmering beneath.
Critique aside, New Heights nonetheless shines as a surprisingly well-executed slab of modern progressive metal, especially for a band so young and technically accomplished. With their ambition and predilection towards professionalism, Sorin truly has every reason to reach new heights and beyond on future releases.