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Herd Of Instinct - Herd of Instinct CD (album) cover

HERD OF INSTINCT

Herd Of Instinct

 

Eclectic Prog

4.19 | 31 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

avestin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This Herd's music combines mystery, ambiance, a sense of adventure and raw power.

A short background on the band: They call themselves Herd Of Instinct, but they're only three guys. Though, if one counts the amount of guest and backing musicians on this album, the term herd becomes more applicable. The Herd is a Texas-based trio comprised of Mark Cook (Warr guitars, programming), Mike Davison (guitar, guitar synth), Jason Spradlin (drums). Mark and Jason came from the band 99 Names Of God, and joined by Mike, they formed Herd Of Instinct. Together they set out to create music that draws inspiration from "multi-cultural music, literary clues, Horror and cinematic film scores, and obscure elements of Rock, Avant-garde, Electronic, Prog, and Psychedelic music." While they perform as a trio live, this first recording of theirs is a meeting ground for many a guest musicians such as Gavin Harrison (Porcupine Tree), Markus Reuter (Tuner), Pat Mastelotto, and Gayle Ellett (Djam Karet) among many others. That last name is of note also since this album is released through Firepool Records, which is Djam Karet's independent label.

Now to the album itself?: Not knowing the band at all, neither their previous incarnation, I did not know what to expect and so with eagerness, I put on the cd and began my journey, which proved beyond satisfying.

Herd Of Instinct play a superb brand of modern progressive rock. Top-notch musicianship lies behind the spellbinding compositions; these combine ominous sounding textures and magical cinematic ambiances with powerful and heavy progressive rock, almost metal-ic at times. The band balances very well between softness and aggressiveness, erratic and restless playing alongside peaceful and calmer streams. Indeed, an eclectic style is featured here, between and within the tracks.

The album flows naturally, almost seamlessly from one piece to the next, always with that peculiar and special mystifying vibe, whether in the background or the forefront. The music is, for the most part, not predictable and following a formula, like one may hear in other, more generic progressive rock releases. The element of surprise is made use of here, whether it is in left-turns in mid-song, or in a surprise turn as we go from one track to the next; this makes the album so fun to listen to. This sense of adventure, this thrilling ride through mysterious and alluring soundscapes is what keeps me, the listener, coming back to the album. Indeed, they follow their instincts with regards how the music should go on.

While the album is instrumental, there is one track featuring female vocals, Blood Sky. Kris Swenson's vocals those match the music very well. The Marimba in this song adds an exotic and cool vibe, enhanced by the guitar solo.

The percussion work here is also of note, especially as various musicians share the duties on the album. One particular stand-out performance is on Anamnesis, played by Pat Mastelotto and another one is Gavin Harrison's drumming on Possession and on Vibrissa where he accompanies thrilling guitar solos from Gayle Ellet and Mike Davison. This piece begins with the rawness of rock and proceeds with the coolness and beauty of space-rock.

I want to give a special note to the production. The sound of this album is crispy clean; one can hear all the instruments very well. For instance, the Warr guitar at the beginning of Blood Sky sounds like it's coming from inside the room, it's crunchy sound counter-balanced by the softness of the vocals and the mellotron and synths.

In my searches for exciting and rewarding albums, this one ranks high in those respective categories. Hearing this album for the first time, I was thrilled with each piece that came up, immersing myself in each composition and telling myself, "the next one will surely not be this good"; but it was. It's always a treat to discover a new band and album that take you out by storm such as I find Herd Of Instinct have done on this album.

Do not listen to this album as background music. Dim the light, put your headphones on if you have them, and focus on the music. Otherwise, the whole listening experience will be lost on you.

avestin | 4/5 |

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