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.