Review Summary: Is it death metal? Questionable. But it is an exceptional progressive metal release nonetheless.
The self labeled “progressive melodeath” band The Advent Equation was formed in the year 2006 under the name of Advent, partly by the not-so-coincidentally named brothers: Luis Advent and Dano Advent. Personally, the very first thing I thought of when reading about the name of the band was “Hey, it’s like that one song from Opeth’s Morningrise.” This is honestly very fitting for a band in the genre of prog death. However, just out of curiosity I had hunted down and listened to a bit of their 2008 EP and to my surprise, they did not have names from an Opeth album but the level of detail that the band had mimicked the sound of Opeth’s MAYH is only comparable to that of ancient Greeks sculptors.
However, Advent’s career directly imitating Opeth was short-lived as both guitarists in the band (The Advent brothers) had left. And for reasons unknown, the band renamed themselves, The Advent Equation. Inevitably, with the change in the band lineup, the sound of the band will change as well. And as much as I’m also a fan of the Swedish progressive metal band, the fact that The Advent Equation had begun to diversify their sound in their debut album is a step in the right direction. Though their 2012 album still reuses a lot of tropes from progressive death metal, they bring forth enough originality to make their new home in the scene.
Eight years later with the release of their sophomore album The Advent Equation is still changing up their sound, however, not all of the changes are necessarily positive. In Remnants of Oblivion a lot of the time it feels like the band does not entirely know what to do with their sound. It essentially feels like they are lacking in a consistent identity. This may partially be because it has been eight years since they’ve released their last album, or it could be because they’ve swapped out three of their band members since then.
Nonetheless, if you can look past the band’s fragmentary delivery, what you will find is a technically practiced and musically adept album that is able to scratch a certain progressive metal itch that one looks for when discovering a new band of the genre. What I can say is that Remnants of Oblivion is filled with many good riffs but not a lot of guitar solos. Luis Gomez seems to be much more of a riff writer than a shredder, and that is a respectable position. However, many people look to an album in this field of music wanting that long and technical guitar solo which this album disappointingly has little to none of.
On positive the side, all of the instrumentalists have very excellent harmony with one another which makes each section of the album very satisfying to listen to even when they may be lacking in other respects. Additionally, this album sounds professionally mixed which adds to the clarity of the instrumental harmonization. What I love about listening to a metal album with strong instrumental harmony is that I can lay back and enjoy the unique sound created by the fusions of all the musicians, but then when listening deeper I can layer through and catch the subtleties of the bass, the guitars, drums, and the keys.
And the keys! … wow, it seems like I’ve been listening to a lot of albums lately where the synth player happens to be the most standout member of the album’s sound. The keys on this album are immaculate, both when Carlos Licea is painting the background with colorful synth lines or when he fills a climax with Dream Theater-esque keyboard solos. Some of the best moments on the album are when the keys are in the foreground and create a cool and alien atmosphere. When in the background they do an exceptional job creating a layered rhythm contrast the pace of the other instruments.
Overall, this is a pleasant but confusing album. When you looks at the album art, it looks like something you would find in a sci-fi deathcore or tech death release. But strangely enough, this album is not very death metal and much more general prog metal. In fact, growls are actually only present in two songs, a liberal estimate of 62 seconds in the entire album. When they are around they are good but those super heavy moments are few and far between. Most of the time the vocalist provides vocals that are nothing particularly special for the genre. The way that the vocalist combines with the keyboardist though reminds me of bands like Circus Maximus or Green Carnation.
What makes bands like Opeth interesting is that they are able to create such a juxtaposition between very heavy and extreme sounds and melodic and smooth sounds. This may be something that the band was interested in at the beginning of their career, but in Remnant of Oblivion, it feels like they are carrying the death metal label along like unwanted baggage. I don’t say this often, but the band would benefit from committing their sounds more to death metal than to prog. This album is not necessarily meant for people looking for a melodeath album, it’s more for those who want a musically proficient progressive metal album with great instrumental harmony with bold, colorful synths.