Review Summary: A tightly composed, progressive adventure that leans a bit too heavily on its influences.
Chain Reaction is a surprisingly mature release for any band, let alone a progressive act with influences as diverse as Distorted Harmony. The songs don't bounce from idea to idea, and riff to riff, like so many others in progressive metal. Instead, each song is tightly composed, making the best of its themes and grooves, always eager to give you just enough of a good thing. The album opener, "Every Time She Smiles", really exemplifies this -- the song introduces and reuses themes in increasingly intricate arrangements. As with the rest of the album, the outstanding vocals give the listener a solid melody to latch on to while atmospheric loops and rock choruses chug underneath.
Comparisons to contemporaries are unavoidable, however. "Misguided" -- absolutely the album stand-out -- descends into Haken and Between the Buried and Me style madness around the three-quarters mark. The folksy "As You Go" ventures into Porcupine Tree's quieter territory. Dream Theater's influence obviously permeates the album. The band clearly modeled their production after Devin Townsend's. But there are distinct electronic influences, too. Most notably, "Nothing (But the Rain)" sounds like something straight off of Massive Attack's Mezzanine, and for that matter, Methylene Blue sounds a lot like "Angel" from that same record. The occasional EDM "wub" or run of synth keys reveals an electronic sensibility underlying the record.
The band's vocalist might be its greatest strength. His voice is powerful and rarely breaks from its smooth timbre, no matter how high or low he sings. The biggest break from this is in "Children of Red", a powerfully delivered condemnation of authoritarian communism, which is screamed in part. The lyrics in general deal with mature topics -- war, depression, religion -- through a perspective derived from the band's Israeli upbringing. The lyrics are manifestly anti-violence and anti-dogma and fittingly match the mood of the music.
Overall, the album checks all the boxes for an excellent progressive metal release: a mix of moods and textures; layered, interesting compositions performed by outstandingly talented musicians; and some new ideas and defiance of expectations, at least relative to music outside this scene. But while Distorted Harmony pay expert homage to their influences, they could stand to define their own sound more, especially instrumentally.