REVIEW: A SENSE OF GRAVITY – “Atrament”
Having problems deciding between modern tech death, soundtracks, and 80s progressive metal? Well, look no further than ‘Atrament’, the latest release by Seattle’s up-and-coming sextet, A Sense Of Gravity. Pre-existing fans will be happy to know that this album is very much in the same vein as the previous one, but with amplified insanity and much more versatility. If they keep this up, I predict a huge surge in their fan-base in the years to come. These guys are going places.
“Drowning In The Ink” is a calming start to ‘Atrament’. Reminiscent of a classical film score, and featuring video game composer Wilbert Roget on flute, it flows well into the dramatically explosive second track, “Reclusive Peace”, which possesses the same core melody, only much heavier. A perfect example of technical death metal, “Echo Chasers” also provides a glimpse at how versatile vocalist CJ Jenkins can be, not only incorporating cleans as well as growls, but pulling off a range of styles for both.
The middle four songs are by far the highlight of the album, beginning with “The Divide”. The initial piano with cymbal accents is a great start to the best track, the bass coming in after a few bars to bring the groove, giving way to a fluid vocal melody. The contrast in dynamics is beautiful, turning heavy half way through with a deep growl that I absolutely love. Generally speaking, Jenkins impresses me during this middle section of ‘Atrament’, venturing into uncharted vocal territory by going flawlessly from brutal to clean, and reaching notes that normal humans would need a lot of falsetto to achieve. “Artificially Ever After” has a more fusion-like happy quality with the help of bassist Chance Unterseher, and all of the crazy Haken-like guitar and keyboard work. The fluctuation between light and heavy is perfect: the growls are accentuated by theatrical harmonies in the catchiest way, and the relationship between the keys and rhythm section provide a great backbone to the consistently intricate guitars. Then there’s “Revenant”, a doomy, gritty two minutes of goodness that I would like to hear more of in future, and “Guise Of Complacency”, which involves more shredding riffage and a comical yet impressive power metal shriek amid the tech death.
In comparison to the previous few tracks, “Shadowed Lines” is a lullaby (with a great few seconds of piano), so I tend to skip ahead to “Promised None” and it’s groovy instrumental sections. “The Projectionist” brings it’s own heaviness to the table, but nothing really stands out about it to me. I like how “I, Recreant” begins, however this is one vocal melody that I’m not so partial to, despite what I hope I’m counting correctly as a 13/8 time signature.
The finale comes in the form of the longest track, “Manic Void”, which immediately launches into those rapid licks that they do so well, and eventually, the album closes gently with a familiar echo of the “Drowning In The Ink” melody. Mid-song, there is also some sort of Castlevania party on the keys that becomes yet another intense guitar solo. Having three of the six members credited as guitar players, two of which also play keyboards, makes it difficult to give credit for certain solos and riffs, but since everything is performed with skill and precision, I gladly give a shout out to Morgan Wick, Brendon Williams, and Brandon Morris. And let’s not forget drummer Pete Breene, whose accents and rhythms are so clean, allowing the other instruments to float comfortably on top.
The biggest thing that I can say about A Sense Of Gravity is that they almost have too many ideas and too much talent for their own good, as they seem to be able to draw and replicate sounds from many genres; with each change in style, a new band comes to mind, making it sound like a wonderfully elaborate collaboration. While at first I thought that sounding like several other bands meant a lack of creativity, I’ve been through the album so many times, new aspects jumping out at me with each listen that I now appreciate how great that concept actually is. If just any band could simultaneously sound like half of my collection, I might have a bit more hope for the future of creative music – because why do the same thing over and over when you can expand your palette and take influence from everywhere? After all, any band that sites Sleepytime Gorilla Museum as an inspiration is automatically good in my books. Plus, as an added bonus, ‘Atrament’ is a well-mixed independent release, to which I am happy to doff my proverbial hat.