Others By No One
Book II: Where Stories Come From


4.5
superb

Review

by WattPheasant USER (51 Reviews)
January 20th, 2022 | 9 replies


Release Date: 10/22/2021 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Others By No One releases a whale of an album that is just as incomprehensible as it is ingenious, combining zany elements throughout the prog sphere.

It seems that every couple of years we get a completely bat-*** insane album out of prog or avant garde metal that teeters on the brink of musical brilliance and over-the-top, incomprehensible chaos. People will usually either hate or love these albums. Even though progressive and avant garde metal have an implicit purpose to subvert the listener’s expectations, there is a thin line between how much a piece of music can subvert expectations without spilling over the edge into musical clutter. This is the kind of stuff that becomes more and more difficult to resonate with unless one puts effort into repeated listens and/or research into the lyrical content. This might be why this album was picked up and dropped weeks later by two of the members from TheProgressiveSubway; this album is marvelous and perplexing, it hits high peaks but is overall somewhat head-scratching. And to this day, I still do not have a firm, stalwart opinion of this album but here are some of my thoughts on Book II: Where Stories Come From.

I think Others By No One can be associated with the lineage of zany prog artists that came out after Between the Buried and Me’s The Parallax II: Future Sequence; these would be Native Construct, The World is Quiet Here, Edge of Reality, and now Others By No One (we might also be able to fit Rototypical into this bunch). I list these artists out not only because all of them are decently influenced by The Parallax II, but because they follow its footsteps in the spirit of making extremely progressive, wacky, and campy concept albums taking “prog” to the next level. Essentially, they take everything that Anthony Fantano hated about The Parallax II and dialed them up. This makes for a product that any reasonable person cannot expect one to fully appreciate on the first few listens. It essentially combines influences from artists across the board, from Pink Floyd to Sikth and everywhere in between.

Book II: Where Stories Come From is essentially a rock opera with scattered avant garde/progressive metal interludes. It follows a concept album about an author of fictional stories getting overly involved with the characters in his written creation and falling in love with one of the written beings. Because this is a match of unlikely individuals, a small misadventure ensues with the characters in the story. I'm not entirely sure but this might be meant to be a kind of theological allegory. Furthermore, there are more than plenty of effective existential lyrics in this album that remind me of something that Devin Townsend might write.

Speaking of Devin Townsend, he is one of this album’s major influences not just in the lyrical writing but in the vocal songwriting. In general, the vocals in this album usually sound very practiced, polished, and Devin Townsend inspired. They are performed mainly by Max Mobarry who has mad musical talent, along with a gang of 14 other vocalists that help do the main choruses and the various characters in the plot. This album in general is very vocal-centric and would suffer greatly without them. They propel the album’s climactic peaks which are usually in the form of triumphant choruses, for example, in the middle of “A Reverie to Quell the Giants” or the end of “The Plight of Proxy”.

Vocals aside, this album has a stacked lineup of instruments featured; we’ve got a flute, cello, violin, mandolin, 6 and 12 stringed guitars, upright bass, and I kid you not, a kazoo performance. Hearing a kazoo solo in a metal album is definitely a first for me. This album additionally has a broad range of musical styles which span from stuff that sounds like indie-folk, jazz-fusion, progressive rock, SikTh-esque djenty breakdowns, and death metal vocals. This album excels in delivering a variety of sounds that make it almost comparable to that of Empath.

However, I do want to touch on a couple of contentions that I have with Others By No One. One is that the songwriters can get a little bit too involved in the lyrics and concept of the album that it can weaken the quality of the melodies and musical effectiveness. For instance, when I compare this to something like Metropolis Part 2: Scenes From a Memory (MP2), I see that Dream Theater gets just about as into the concept of their album with all of their sex scene, car radio, and murder interludes, however in MP2, Dream Theater made sure to write award-winning melodies and intense musical moments in basically every song, scattered indiscriminately throughout the album to keep hold of the listener’s attention span. In comparison, Book II starts out incredibly strong with the first 4 songs then it starts to meander around a little bit afterward in the middle; I doubt there will be many people who say "Foxjune", "Tomes" or "Tombs" are their favorite tracks. The album picks up again around the last few songs but it is incredibly difficult for a new listener to stay focused and get through this whole 74-minute whale in one sitting.

And this is less of a criticism as it is a personal preference but when I hear this band advertised as “FFO: BTBAM”, I expect this to be more metal. I’m definitely fine with this album being categorized as a big fusion of genres but I would not consider this a metal album at its core. I hate to become something like the very elitists that block my reviews from Metal-Archives but I want more metal riffs out of this band. The style of Book II is more akin to The Dear Hunter or Pink Floyd than a metal album. Additionally, when the metal moments are present, they do not have much build-up, they often just pop out of nowhere then leave, like the album has AHDH. This contributes to a common criticism this album receives, that it severely lacks cohesion and overall unity.

Because this is a lot more of a preference, my score is not negatively affected by me wishing it was more metal. I know how hard it is for an artist to please everyone and I don’t want to be a thorn in their back for producing a, for the most part, stellar album. I know there are a ton of people out there that would absolutely love Others By No One if they knew the band existed. So, for all of you out there that like progressive, wacky, bouncing-off-the-wall, rock opera, concept albums with a smattering of extreme metal interludes this is something that is right up your alley.

Attribution: https://theprogressivesubway.com/2022/01/19/reports-from-the-underground-albums-we-missed-in-2021/



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user ratings (25)
3.8
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
MonumentsOfParalysis
January 21st 2022


406 Comments


Excellent review! This band deserves a lot more recognition. I've been a big fan of Book I and I still need to give this one a spin.

SublimeSound
January 21st 2022


79 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Great review. You're right: this album is a juggernaut wrought in chaos. I'd never heard of these guys but I'm glad I gave this a spin.

WattPheasant
January 21st 2022


53 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Some people are really die-hard fans of this band, I wouldn't put myself in this camp necessarily but I do understand why they get a lot of praise. I do value cohesiveness in albums though and this really hits you hard at the beginning, then meanders around a bit afterward.

bloc
January 21st 2022


68475 Comments


Love the review, but I could not stand this album

MyColdShoulder
January 21st 2022


286 Comments


This album is all over the place and has absolutely no focus

I think I'm gonna 5 it

WattPheasant
January 22nd 2022


53 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

bloc, I honestly thought this album was very overrated when I first listened to it, now I kind of understand more why this is praised. However, I would say people who give this a 5/5 strongly overlook its lack of coherence, unity, and restraint.

Zakusz
February 28th 2022


590 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Right Side of the Brain is a masterpiece of a song. I love this thing more and more with each listen.

Digging: Archive - Call To Arms and Angels

Ecnalzen
March 11th 2022


11237 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This shit is crazy



I'm kinda in to it

Zakusz
April 18th 2022


590 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Just revisited this last night and today again in full, what a ride. A couple filler bits near the back half but they aren't anything to be annoyed about in the scheme of things.



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