Review Summary: If a band ever moves me the way they did again, I will eat my hat.
I often think that instrumental rock/metal can blend together easily, with similar production and instrument sounds, especially when it comes to guitar. And sometimes, it can suck the emotion from the pieces that are supposed to mean the most.
Set and Setting are not one of those bands.
From the first second, you can tell there’s something different. Where some bands would launch you straight into their music, Set and Setting start with… nothing. I turned the volume up, wondering why it was so quiet, and then I heard the sound of crows cawing, hopping around, a very strange and welcome start to an album. “The Unhindered Break of Day” serves as a suitable introduction, saying without words: “We are different to the others, stick around.”
they kick in full force, and keep going with troughs and peaks of fast and quiet, complex and simple, loud and quiet, for the next 45 minutes (52 if you count the bonus digital tracks, which I will not). “Spiraling Uncertainties” helps you get acquainted with their two-drummer, two-guitarist, one-bassist line-up.
Two drummers could have gone one of many ways: too complex, unnecessary, hard to follow, overpowering. But they get it perfect, and you can hear the two drummers work their magic perfectly in all the tracks, one on toms, the other on cymbals. But if you weren’t listening to them, you’d pass it off as one drummer. It’s music that rewards you for actually listening
More importantly, it also gets you feeling. I can’t help but feel my heart lift through “Spiraling Uncertainties”, or my stomach sinking through the melancholic riffs and drum rolls of “The Fear of Obtainment”, my head nod and my heart settle with epic finale “Essence of Paradox”. You can build your own story for any of the tracks, and it’s kind of fun to imagine what they were thinking when they composed different tunes.
The length of the tracks doesn’t seem to matter. Whether it’s the 3 short minutes of “The Unhindered Break”, or the 13-and-a-half-behemoth “Essence of Paradox”, you don’t get bored. This, I think, is mostly to do with their impeccable sense of knowing when to change it up. They’ll settle, content, into a groove, then, just as you’re about to get bored, and I do mean just
, they change fluently into some other riff, some other section entirely. And they never do so predictably: if I listened to this album for the first time again, I would be surprised at every twist and turn, from the contrast from calm and peaceful start of “The Truth of the Path”, right through to the near-overwhelming, intensely emotional end, I don’t think I’ve ever been so surprised.
Have I ever been this moved by music before" No, not really. I am not easily moved by music. This music is beautiful, the instruments and composing used like precise and unwavering instruments to elicit whatever response they want from you. They have found their perfect album, and if they made the same thing again (they almost did, with A Vivid Memory
) I would most certainly not complain. Purely lack of faults cannot get an album the coveted "Classic" status. But playing with my emotions to this degree and also being flawless" That most definitely can.