Review Summary: Healing metal.
The first moments of The Shape of Everything
’s opener “Moment” communicate the record’s vision and style perfectly. Warm clusters of shoegaze-esque guitar chords hover over a wide chasm of downtuned metal riffs, calling to mind the most atmospheric moments by Deftones and Devin Townsend while still retaining a unique identity. SOM’s self-proclaimed mission is to “leave this place better than we found it”, and through the lush melodies and positive vibes of their debut LP, I believe them. Fronted by Connecticut native Will Benoit, the group allow their shoegaze and post-metal elements to mingle and intertwine, merging into one cohesive sound; the record doesn’t act as a juxtaposition of the two styles as much as it proves the effectiveness of fusing them together near-seamlessly. If anything, the heaviness of the rhythm guitars acts as a side dish to the ethereal leads that provide the album’s true ambiance.
One of the most striking features of SOM’s debut from the get-go is its length: only 34 minutes, spread across eight tracks. It’s certainly a lean runtime, and there’s not much variation in the song lengths. However, rest assured that the band manage to make excellent use of the brief amount of time they have; The Shape of Everything
remains consistently engaging and fresh, both stylistically and from a quality perspective. “Animals”, for instance, takes the hazy melodies and droning riffs of “Moment” and dives even deeper with touches of airy lead guitars and a distorted spoken-word segment. Meanwhile, late-album cuts “Wrong” and “Heart Attack” put a bit more emphasis on those cavernous metal riffs that anchor the experience as a whole; the latter in particular sounds quite reminiscent of the heavier moments of Deftones’ Saturday Night Wrist
- “Hole in the Earth” and the closing riff of “Beware” quickly come to mind.
All of this is accompanied by highly detailed and ornate production values courtesy of Benoit himself. The Shape of Everything
sounds pretty damn immaculate, providing a perfect balance between a metallic crunch and shoegaze textures; every time I’ve replayed the record, I’ve noticed small details that could have easily been missed upon first listen. For instance: the swirling guitar leads that hang over the climax of “Clocks” while Benoit is singing, or the incredibly subtle ebbs and flows in volume that mark “Shape” as a whole. Still, with all of this in mind, I do believe that more stylistic variation could benefit SOM’s work in the future. The 34-minute runtime does keep the music focused and tight, but I could see the record getting a bit boring and monotonous if it were longer and more sprawling. If Benoit and company are shooting for a more expansive tracklist (or more expansive arrangements for that matter) next time around, it might be wise for them to bring a few more tricks to the table - perhaps a few more aggressive riffs or soft ambient passages for greater dynamic contrast.
However, what they delivered here is still impressive. There’s something to be said for a band who decide to bring out the positivity and healing properties in a genre that’s generally known for intensity and distortion, and SOM accomplish this very nicely. The Shape of Everything
is warm, inviting, and just plain beautiful; it may not be quite as sprawling or ambitious as some of its creators’ other post-metal contemporaries, but it still manages to be a compelling experience in the short runtime it has. There’s a bright musical future here, and one can only hope that SOM successfully capitalize on it.