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Halcyon - Pastures CD (album) cover




Experimental/Post Metal

3.40 | 18 ratings

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Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer
4 stars 'Pastures' - Halcyon (7/10)

Australia is a fairly underrated place for metal, and I have no doubt that the land from down under will be playing a bigger role in the future music scene. Halcyon is one such band that comes from Sydney, and as I am surprisingly rare to say so nowadays about modern progressive metal, I must say that I am impressed with what the band has done with their first legitimate album. 'Pastures' is a technically sound and adventurous outing from this two person group, and hopefully an indicator of good things to come from them.

Much of the sound here is led by the well-rounded guitar work of Plini. Backing the guitars up is the considerably less startling, but keen keyboard work and atmospherics of Allen. Although tossed into the label of 'djent' (meaning math metal with a trademark palm-muted guitar technique), there is much more going on here than rhythmically off-center riffing. 'Noodle I' starts 'Pastures' off with a sound that is surprisingly atmospheric and even mellow, with Plini exploring the guitar neck with both technicality and tastefulness. Halcyon begins this trek sounding more akin to a Jeff Beck or even Steve Vai album more than anything. Although things eventually get much heavier and typical of 'djent', Halcyon makes it clear that their sound is based around the art of lead guitar, and as a result, the rhythm section seems to falter a bit. The programmed drums are functional, but quite obviously lacking anything in the way of feeling, and are also turned far enough down in the mix to feel like an error more than an artistic choice. As 'Pastures' goes on, it becomes impossible not to concentrate on the lead guitars, as Plini's work here is incredible and well-rounded through both the more downtuned riffs, subtle plucking and melodic, sometimes jazz- infused solos.

The keyboards here feel quite largely overwhelmed by the guitars here, to the point often where they are difficult to notice until the second or third listen. That is not necessarily a problem however, as the guitarwork is so well done as to keep 'Pastures' afloat virtually on its own. On top of the progressive metal and blistering electric guitars, there is also some incredible slap acoustic guitar work that often reminds me of early 20th century guitarist Django Reinhart (humorously referred to in the track title 'Django Fett'). Barring that, this is an affair for electric guitar; someone looking for a more balanced band effort can look elsewhere. While I may have liked a quite a bit more meat on the bones of the rhythm section, the guitarwork of Plini easily rivals that of contemporary 'djent' guitarist Tosin Abasi, of Animals As Leaders.

A great album and promising note for modern progressive metal.

Conor Fynes | 4/5 |


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