Children of Nova
The Complexity of Light



by Acre USER (33 Reviews)
April 5th, 2010 | 30 replies

Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Its parts may be borrowed from better bands, but Children of Nova assemble these parts into a very compelling release that hints at a bright future for the band.

It’s somewhat ironic that Circa Survive have become the poster children for this whole indie/prog movement, when nearly every one of their contemporaries one-ups them in terms of technicality, songwriting, etc; (Closure in Moscow and The Dear Hunter immediately come to mind). You can safely add Children of Nova to that last list, as evident on The Complexity of Light, the band’s debut album/EP (at 33 minutes and six songs, it skirts the line between the two). It may not be the most original album you’ll ever hear, but it shows heaps of potential for the young San Diego band.

OK, let’s just get the main complaint out of the way: the music of Children of Nova can basically be described as a combination of well-worn elements from their contemporaries. The vocalist sounds like Cedric Bixler-Zavala when he’s not trying to sound like Andrew Mailloux. The guitars sound like Circa Survive when they don’t sound like Closure in Moscow. The pretentious-as-hell sci-fi story behind the album reeks of Coheed and Cambria, complete with prophecies and evil armies and the saviour of Earth or some such nonsense. On the surface, this supposed lack of originality would be an instant death-knell. Thankfully, the bands Children of Nova are cribbing from are all really good, and where the band may initially lack in creativity, they make up for it in sheer execution.

The band’s biggest strength is their technical ability: make no mistake, these cats can play. Special mention must go to the exceptional rhythm section of the band, especially bassist Mario, whose smooth and spiraling basslines frequently upstage the guitars. On “Second Sight Blackout”, the bass essentially defines the songs melody for its first couple minutes, and his work on standout track “Arcaedion” is truly a delight to behold. Likewise, vocalist Teo displays his vocal range throughout the album, especially with the Mars Volta-esque falsetto flourishes he frequently busts out. My one complaint in this regard is that he does it a few too many times, and it comes off as a little showy: the falsetto yelps at the very end of the title track sound mostly unnecessary in the context of the rest of the song, and are much better integrated on “Second Sight Blackout” and “Arcaedion”.

The Complexity of Light puts its best feet forward with its first two tracks. The titular “The Complexity of Light” starts with a percussion-heavy intro that furthers the Mars Volta comparisons, but from there it’s sweet ambrosia, with a chorus that immediately makes all the negative comparisons moot in the realization that these guys can really write a great track. It’s over six and a half minutes in length, but shifts through several mood changes throughout and stays fresh and exciting throughout. As previously mentioned, “Arcaedion” is the easy highlight, with its memorable staccato riffs, invigorating and surprisingly soulful chorus, and an intense climax that encompasses all of the best technical elements of each of the band members.

The one thing that keeps this from being an instant recommendation is the fact that following these two tracks, the album never quite approaches the same heights. There isn’t a bad track in the bunch, but it’s hard to hear “The Fall of Aphonia” as anything but a rehash of the two previous songs. Likewise, “The Collide” is a servicable closer, and encompasses some of the album’s best individual moments, but at over seven minutes runs out of new territory to explore well before its finale, leaving the impression of a track that could have used a better editor. At the same time, these complaints are all forgivable of a relatively young band, and while The Complexity of Light doesn’t achieve every one of its ambitions, the sheer fact that such a young band was able to accomplish any of these ambitions is impressive enough. By itself, it’s probably not going to be the new Bible for indie/prog bands, but it proves that Children of Nova has enough potential to one day write that Bible for themselves.

Oh, and it’s only $6 on iTunes. Geez, that should have been in the intro.

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user ratings (169)

Comments:Add a Comment 
April 6th 2010


Album Rating: 3.5

My friend has been pestering me to do a write-up of this for several weeks. Ok, that's done.

In case it's not clear, this is a pretty strong 3.5 recommendation.

April 6th 2010


Album Rating: 4.0

really good review. i just got into these guys about a month ago and i really like them.

April 6th 2010


Sounds like my (local!) cup of tea. Review is wickerytastic, I'll check this out.

April 6th 2010


Album Rating: 3.5

Dear sir, I would never hope to intrude on the untapped stores of wickeryness you possess.

April 6th 2010


i'm trying these guys out right now and it's quite enjoyable. your review is spot on, except i may be giving this a 4 instead.

June 14th 2010


Ok well really liked your review yet I believe that when u talk about complaints it is almost pointless as u are listing what made each respective band gr8 and what children of nova have don is simply take these aspects and combine them placing all these "well worn elements" into a single band and have therefore created something better than the sum of their parts. I love all the bands u have mentioned and respect them all and tht is the reason I love children of nova this album is a 4.5 for me.

July 20th 2010


Album Rating: 4.0

Sounds a lot like a cleaner, more melodic Mars Volta. Not that that's a bad thing.

July 22nd 2010


Album Rating: 4.5

You can get the CD from the website for $5.

August 4th 2010


Closure in Moscow one-upping Circa Survive in terms of technicality? Really? Closure in Moscow probably has the least vocal talent of any of the four bands mentioned in your review (five if you count the Mars Volta recommendation.)

November 5th 2010


Album Rating: 3.5

This guy's falsetto so owns TMV and CiM.

November 23rd 2010


Heard a song from this on Rock Band today. It was entertaining. Going to check this out. Expecting very unoriginal music.

December 1st 2010


I seriously, seriously can't fathom why a band would release this. I don't even have to explain myself. Anyone who hears this will know why this shouldn't have been released. These guys should be embarrassed.

December 24th 2010


despite the obvious influences it still sounds great, vocalist is excellent

December 27th 2010


Album Rating: 4.0

Once you get over your cock gobbling obsession for mars volta, acorn, you'll see that this is at least decent.

January 15th 2011


Album Rating: 3.0

Good album, I liked it.

I think that the singer is pushing too hard though.

March 23rd 2011


title track is coolio...

May 13th 2011


Album Rating: 4.5

Does anyone know the what the story of the album is?? I wanna know!!

May 23rd 2011


Just started listening to this. The vocalist is pushing it for sure.

May 26th 2011


Album Rating: 4.0

complexity of light kicks major ass

May 26th 2011


Album Rating: 4.0

complexity of light kicks major ass

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