REVIEW: TEXTURES – “Phenotype”
For over ten years, Dutch outfit Textures have been wowing fans with their blend of melodic and progressive metal, creating some truly impactful sounds. Particularly as a big fan of their 2011 album, ‘Dualism’, I was extremely excited to finally listen to the fifth release, ‘Phenotype’, in its entirety.
“Oceans Collide” is a powerful opener to the album, with a subtle initial intake of breath just as the explosion of sound bursts forth. Immediately, the patterns and rhythms of heavy prog metal meet those of a slightly metalcore feel, with the rather recognizable tones of frontman Daniel de Jongh bringing the whole thing to life. The usage of aggressive harsh vocals in combination with his deep-sounding upper register of cleans are in full force, and as usual, provide a distinct quality to the band as a whole. However, Textures is not simply a vocal-driven band; the guitars provided by Joe Tal and Bart Hennephof are equally as impressive throughout.
The following two tracks, “New Horizons” and “Shaping A Single Grain of Sand”, deliver a nice contrast to each other, one being on the more melodic side, while the latter is packed with dirty growls, tight snare rolls, and crashing quarter notes on the china. Plus, triplets on the ride are always a nice touch. The sporadic blast beats that are thrown in near the end of ‘Shaping A Single Grain of Sand” are also well placed, on top of a guitar tone reminiscent of a more mathcore sound, which would have worked even better had they chosen to go further down that route into complex territory.
Then comes one of the highlights of ‘Phenotype’, and one of the recently released teaser tracks, “Illuminate the Trail”. Despite the occasional gang chant, the verses are glorious, courtesy of those insane guitar runs. The softer break in the middle gives an element of dynamics, before launching into even more intensity. This track has the most depth, and some of the catchiest vocal lines on the album; the lyric “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” plays on repeat in my head in particular.
Next up is “Meander”, a djenty snare march of a drum track featuring intricate cymbal accents, which leads perfectly into “Erosion”. This is one of the heavier and more straight forward tracks on ‘Phenotype’, with chugging riffs and a simple 4/4 beat over top, complete with a guitar solo toward the end. All is not lost, however, as we are eased into “The Fourth Prime”. Pulsating layers of 3/4 and 4/4 sweep the listener into a really great groove, especially due
to the strategic placement of the snare in those spots.
Another dynamic pause comes in the form of “Zman”, an emotional piano piece in which to breathe before the finale, “Timeless”. This might end up being my favourite song on ‘Phenotype’ – switching back and forth from 5/8 to 5/4, how could it not be? Every member of Textures shines, from the keys to the drums, which once again must be mentioned, as Stef Broks provides some tight snare work here as well. “Timeless” evokes emotion, yet also incorporates the kind of sound that I would have liked to hear more of on this album in general.
Nine tracks adding up to roughly forty minutes in length, ‘Phenotype’ is bound to make waves within certain metal subcultures, however that might be due to the fact that Textures didn’t take too many chances this time around, sticking to a more mainstream version of what can arguably be called progressive metalcore. While the album possesses several quality aspects (most prominently in the vocal and percussion performances), it is considerably more straight forward than ‘Dualism’, and in my opinion, would have benefitted from a more raw production sound in the drum department. Nevertheless, this is an album that definitely grows on you if given the chance to, and leaves the listener with a feeling of anticipation for its conceptual counterpart, ‘Genotype’, which is set to be released some time in 2017. ‘Phenotype’ is out on February 5th, via Nuclear Blast.