The Helix Nebula
Meridian


3.0
good

Review

by Tristan Jones EMERITUS
September 13th, 2014 | 34 replies


Release Date: 08/29/2014 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Brace yourself.

I don't like progressive metal music.

At least, I don't think I like it. I tend to dissociate with it as though it's unattainable. It's like I'm fenced off from a bonfire and the closest I can come to feeling its warmth is by reaching at the sparks pointlessly. Whatever snippet of emotion is exuded from the music is unknown to me, and I lack the motivation to delve much further than surface level. It's just a self-acceptance. Whether or not I will eventually develop a deeper appreciation for prog metal is anyone's guess, but maybe the point at which I find myself in life has me begging for an emotional connection that is more feasible.

The Helix Nebula are an instrumental band from Sydney, Australia. At first glance, their debut EP, Meridian, exemplifies everything aforementioned regarding their style. The sheer level of technical wankery is baffling, and every inch of this is crammed with jaw-dropping moments that are so seemingly self-indulgent that I struggle to connect on any level. Tracks like "Sea of Suns" practically demand a basic knowledge of linear algebra in order to break down the various time signature changes into something comprehensible (pardon the analogy, I didn't do so well at linear algebra you see). As the EP progresses, The Helix Nebula absolutely refuse to let up. Even the occasional breakdown that should sound generic manages to impress. That said, the EP isn't without flaws. Meridian doesn't rely on any sort of build-up or release, and some of the tracks convey very similar themes. By all means, it should make for an unsatisfying listen, and perhaps it does to an extent, but the sheer magnitude of force throughout the EP is enough to impress even if it's for that reason alone. Perhaps some cheesy visualization would help: imagine a progressive song or album that feels like a journey. Imagine a gradual buildup, climax, aftermath and whatever else fits your requirement for a listening experience equivalent to climbing a mountain. Meridian is like being helicopter lifted to the top of a mountain range, then running full bore down the thing for 25 minutes without a chance to catch your breath. There is the occasional moment of serenity, like the deceptively calm intro on "Time Piece", but these moments of peace are all too brief as the listener is swept up in the undertow.

All of this is essentially a long-winded explanation of how Meridian is possibly the first album of its kind to catch my attention. In that sense, it is sort of important on a personal level, but those well-accustomed to instrumental progressive metal shouldn't expect anything groundbreaking. What you can expect is technical showmanship that will grab your attention for the entirety of its run time, or at least enough to warrant even a begrudging nod of approval. To look towards Meridian for some deeper understanding of the genre would be nothing more than scratching the surface. However, with a first impression like this, you'd be a fool not to dig a little deeper.



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user ratings (75)
Chart.
3.9
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
JohnnyOnTheSpot
Emeritus
September 13th 2014


6681 Comments


http://thehelixnebula.bandcamp.com/releases

ianjulian
September 13th 2014


642 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

The Helix Nebula is an instrumental band

JohnnyOnTheSpot
Emeritus
September 13th 2014


6681 Comments


Cheers (assuming you meant it should've been 'are'.. Idk)

ExplosiveOranges
September 13th 2014


4408 Comments


"I don't like progressive metal music."

neg

JohnnyOnTheSpot
Emeritus
September 13th 2014


6681 Comments


*gulp* shoulda seen that one coming

ExplosiveOranges
September 13th 2014


4408 Comments


In all srsness, solid rev as always. That second paragraph looks huge, though.

JohnnyOnTheSpot
Emeritus
September 13th 2014


6681 Comments


meh. it's about the same size as your standard Rudy K paragraph. I was gonna break it up but w/e didn't wanna disrupt the flow. Might edit later..

ExplosiveOranges
September 13th 2014


4408 Comments


Nah, it's probably because my paragraphs are sometimes barely longer than Treb's, so I'm not used to seeing large blocks of text.

indigonowhere
Emeritus
September 13th 2014


10727 Comments


are writers for this site seriously used as units of measurement

Torontonian
September 13th 2014


2687 Comments


Good album.

paradox1216
Emeritus
September 13th 2014


730 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

really liked this review, glad someone gave this the time of day. great EP

JohnnyOnTheSpot
Emeritus
September 13th 2014


6681 Comments


album is Omaha/5

Torontonian
September 13th 2014


2687 Comments


^thnx for rec . i ended up enjoying this quite a bit.

indigonowhere
Emeritus
September 14th 2014


10727 Comments


I'm only a 3.5? Fuck that noise

Mad.
September 14th 2014


4743 Comments


Great review man, this is somehow on my bandcamp wishlist but I've never listened. Not a fan of prog metal either

Gyromania
September 14th 2014


26502 Comments


second sentence is a good analogy but gets a little cheesy at the end

some of this is awkwardly worded and other bits could benefit from adding a word here or removing one. i'll point a few things out:

It's just a self-acceptance of sorts.


of sorts?

Whatever snippet of emotion is exuded from the music is unbeknownst to me, and I lack the motivation to delve much further than surface level.


exuded seems like an awkward word choice. i'm not sure what the deal is with unbeknowst vs unbeknown, but i think the latter always looks better (personal preference). 'that the surface' or 'than what's on the surface' work better here.

but maybe the point I find myself in life


the point i find myself at in life*

The Helix Nebula are


this is going to seem nitpicky but i believe when using the band's name you should put 'is'

Tracks like "Sea of Suns" practically demand a basic knowledge of linear algebra in order to break down the various time signature changes into something comprehensible - pardon the analogy, I didn't do so well at linear algebra you see.


awesome sentence

the last sentence of your second paragraph is well worded, but certain things are head-scratching, like finding serenity in seeing a hummingbird while falling. i'd omit it if i were you, but it doesn't do much harm. i find that whenever the writer uses imagery like that it's hit or miss and is oft times more opened to ridicule.

aside from those things, the review is excellent and you're really starting to develop your voice.

oh and: i've been listening to this while critiquing your review and i enjoy it. the last minute of temple is sublime. also the first bit of crystal plains. problem with this ep is it sounds kind of homogeneous, despite all that technicality


OwMySnauze
September 14th 2014


1904 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Just recently checked these guys out. They have potential to be huge.

Digging: AnimalJam - AnimalJam

JohnnyOnTheSpot
Emeritus
September 14th 2014


6681 Comments


@Gyro - awesome tips, thx

re: the band name is vs are thing - I always put "are" because I treat all bands as plural... like, I wouldn't say "The Rolling Stones is
playing tonight" so it's just easier if I always use "are"... a band is more than one person, so that's my logic. Plus I used "their" in the
next sentence so it makes sense to me

"'that the surface' or 'than what's on the surface' work better here"
huh? I wrote "I lack the motivation to delve much further than surface level." - seems to work fine, IMO

sorted those other issues out. cheers



Gyromania
September 14th 2014


26502 Comments


you're right, i was reading that wrong (the surface level thing)

i get your logic behind the singular/plural thing but i'm not sure it's correct. i'm going to look into this once and for all though because i'm constantly questioning myself when saying it

klap
Staff Reviewer
September 15th 2014


12039 Comments


this was a good review dude. one thing i notice you tend to do is maybe overload on the thesaurus a bit - in particular, that intro paragraph is a little heavy handed. this is not necessarily a bad thing, but when it leads to phrases like "emotional symbiosis" when what you're really saying is an emotional connection or what have you, it sounds cheesy. you also kind of stretch the math analogy a bit too far, as gyro noted, but i generally liked your ability to talk about the music without going into too much technical detail, which i think is a far better way to write about an album then not. and the helicopter imagery was ace.

one more thing i would look out for is word repetition. as a general rule i try to look out for repeating words at all throughout the review, unless they are very far apart. like when you say something is "deceptively calm" and then write "moments of calm" in the next sentence, you could easily find a synonym for that to make it read better. just a personal preference but i think it helps with the overall flow of a piece.

Digging: Default Genders - main pop girl 2019



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