This young promising “new” band Next To None, with Max Portnoy on drums, released their debut album A Light In The Dark (see review) two years ago. My review then was filled with mixed emotions as I hated the grunge vocals of Thomas Cuce, but I was overwhelmed by the complexity of the music, which was rather Dream Theater-like in certain ways.
Phases is their new album and again I am confronted with the horrible grunt vocals of Cuce and that still ruins a lot of my listening pleasure! Luckily there is enough non-grunt material to be cherished on this new record, which almost clocks eighty minutes, and that is perhaps a bit too long.... The music on Phases is a blend of prog metal and hard core metal and it is again a very creative album, filled with lots of musical ideas, riffs, hooks, melodies and tempos. However, many of the tracks, take for example Alone or Kek, sadly get lost in themselves and sometimes it seems as if the band tries too hard, but alas sadly fails. Maybe this has to do with the fact that the guys decided to produce Phases themselves and in my humble opinion the production is where most of the issues that are not that good lie. Of course Phases is still a very brave and interesting prog metal album, just listen to great songs like Answer Me or the leading single The Apple and you will hear that these guys can play! The Wanderer, last track of the album, is an epic monster of almost twenty minutes long and here the four guys go completely mental and I really love that song, which has “obvious” influences from Avenged Sevenfold and Dream Theater.
Lose the grunting on the next album, use a decent producer and I truly believe that their third record could become a masterpiece, so that their bold name will do them justice!!
*** Martien Koolen (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)
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