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Children of Nova - The Complexity of Light CD (album) cover

THE COMPLEXITY OF LIGHT

Children of Nova

Neo-Prog


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Prog-jester
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars First of all, are you THE MARS VOLTA fan? Stop reading then and go buy yourself this EP, because it's simply superb! It reminds of good old days of "De-loused in the Comatorium", when Cedric and Omar were rather aimed on writing good songs instead of putting on tape LSD-influenced jams and regarding a collection of them as an album. What is good about THE MARS VOLTA is that they've returned to their songwriting with "Octahedron", almost acoustic and laid-back album, but if you want some TMV songs that are the same way wild and challenging as they used to be, look no further than here! Surely CHILDREN OF NOVA's musicians are not even close to Omar and Cedric, they sound a bit more sane (it's like nowadays DREDG covering AT THE DRIVE-IN), but it's a good experience anyway. Recommended!
Report this review (#254520)
Posted Sunday, December 6, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars Is Children of Nova a rock band that discovered metal alone was not enough to satisfy the musical expression and then pushed their music into post-modern Neo-progressive rock? Arcaedion is an excellent representation of a unique, refreshing blend of metal/prog/power rock. Strong vocals, melodic metal progression, power rock guitar riffs, with seamless transitions into symphonic synthesized movements are all evident on this disc, and to excellent result.

Their digitally self-released Complexity of Light has great hooks, wonderful harmonies, with acid-psychedelic guitars that set the mood, and Squire-like bass riffs that simply excel. The drums complement well, but appear to be tuned high. The music suffers as a result; the overall recording of the drum set is the weakest part of this album.

Children of Nova's lead vocalist, TEO, has great range, with a very strong, elegant falsetto. There is always the concern that a falsetto vocal cannot be sustained in later years, once the detrimental effects of performing and advancing age weakens the vocalist's depth and range. Children of Nova should be careful not to fall into that trap and consider allowing guest female vocalists to contribute on future projects. As always, you are physically bound to the music you record.

"Arceadia" may be the best song on the album. This song has a strong chorus, excellent drumming and bottom, with an exceptional bass guitar performance. But again it is the lead guitar that sets the song apart with an almost discordant shred and disparate edge that flies above the music or slices straight through it like a ginzu knife. The only drawback to the song is that it is too short! There is a nice transition into "Fall of Aphonia" where a symphonic progression transitions into a ragged guitar riff that takes this song to a metal edge that blurs the mind. Is this the same song that began with such serenity?

"Second Sight Blackout" begins in a floydian/tangerine dream movement transitioning into a balladic melody that highlights very strong harmonies. Before you can settle down, the metal returns and this time the progression is predictable and slightly disappointing. The band sometimes relies on a style of sustained vocal harmony (hiding the lack of a strong a melody). It is a Nickelback trick, and in excess can be grating. For more than half of this song, this style of vocal depresses the music. But the ending is strong and the segway into "The Order" is beautifully accomplished.

"The Order " is a fine example of the expansive depth of possibilities for Children of Nova's music. The lyrics explore a worn-out concept, however. It is these contrasts between musical excellence and lyrical or melodic-harmonic adequacy that this potentially dominant band will need to resolve in their next release.

The album closes with the song "We Collide" which, amazingly, reminded this critic of the first release from Evanescence. This is one of the strongest songs on the disc, with soaring vocals, intense guitar, and powerful transitions. Despite the minor flaws, Children of Nova have created an excellent album that will stay on this critic's itunes for a long time.

Report this review (#254912)
Posted Tuesday, December 8, 2009 | Review Permalink
Epignosis
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Eclectic Prog Team
4 stars Children of Nova's debut is a smart blend of symphonic and metal, and produces some amazingly memorable and creative melodies. I guess I would describe them as how it would sound if Coheed and Cambria or The Mars Volta started playing symphonic rock. Admittedly, the album tapers off a bit around the second to last track, but the final two tracks are still quite deserving of praise. If any of this sounds appealing, lend this album an ear- preferably both- because the arrangements and their execution are brilliant.

"The Complexity of Light" Hand percussion and a spacious lead guitar opens the album, which to me evokes images of ancient Mayans. The powerful amalgamation of symphonic and metal is a real treat, especially what the band does rhythmically in conjunction with the spectacular vocal melody (just listen to that refrain). The soaring falsetto is splendid to my ears.

"Arcaedion" Sophisticated guitar playing provides a stellar introduction to the second song. The vocals come across as especially impressive. Each flourish is excellent and tightly executed. The bass work and drumming are equally notable because they add so much to the overall sound whilst standing out in their own respective ways. There's enough energy here to power the speakers their music is coming from, and probably then some.

"The Fall of Aphonia" Muted guitar and electronic bleeps give way to lush, almost feminine vocals. The range of this vocalist is certainly impressive, and he does sound like a more restrained Cedric Bixler-Zavala. While the focus may be on the bright vocals, the rhythm never gets stale, using hard-hitting and tight riffs blended with softer fare to create a rich texture supporting the melody.

"Second Sight Blackout" The band provides the listener with an appropriate break by placing the softest song on the album here. It is smooth, with clean wah guitar and a gentle lead. However, it gets much heavier at times, especially as it moves toward its conclusion.

"The Order" Blasts of guitar and that exotic, ethereal vocal brings in a heavy verse. This composition itself is on the disjointed side, with a lot of machine-gun drumming and seemingly misplaced guitar parts. However, the subsequent, echoing guitar phrases are very interesting to listen to.

"We Collide" That fantastic clean, reverberating guitar is back, and gives way to the band's usual dexterous performance. Children of Nova make great use of dynamics even if the overall arrangement drags a bit. The group is as excellent as they have been throughout this album, but my mind simply wanders during this last piece, as it is missing the hooks and melodies that made the previous songs amazing.

Report this review (#257906)
Posted Saturday, December 26, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Ah, the Children of Nova. A little known band that came out of nowhere with this EP and surprised everyone that listened to it. The six songs here are some of the best compositions I've ever heard, bringing forth creativity, yet comfort. It's rather difficult to describe their particular brand of music, but it's not heavy enough for metal, or symphonic enough to be... uh... symphonic. They seem to be influenced greatly by The Mars Volta and Coheed and Cambria, and that's also a good way to describe their sound.

The vocals are most easily described by simply comparing them to the Mars Volta. The singer has a rather high range, and remains there the whole time, occasionally breaking out the falsetto vocals to impress. The lyrics tell of a complicated tale, reminding me of 2112 or Coheed and Cambria. In any case, the vocalist here provides a fantastic clean and beautiful voice to carry out the themes of the album.

The instrumentation is even more interesting. I am a drummer, so I always pay special attention to the drum tracks of an album. That said, the Children of Nova drummer is brilliant. He handles complex rhythms, odd timing, fast drumming, slow drumming, and everything in between with an excessive amount of grace and style. Nothing he does sounds out of place, yet all of it impresses. The Complexity of Light and We Collide are great show cases for his drumming. The rest of the band gives great performances as well. This is a "prog" band so complex timing and rhythm is used. However, unlike many bands, it doesn't feel forced. When the band goes out of 4/4 it isn't jarring or even noticeable. They're smooth, and it all works together.

As I said earlier, many people will describe this band as a mix between The Mars Volta and Coheed. I think Children of Nova are better then either of those bands, and I can't wait for their full album release, coming fall 2011. I encourage everyone to buy this EP, because not only is it full of 6 masterful songs, but it also will help out this new artists, whom deserve to be heard.

Report this review (#454952)
Posted Monday, May 30, 2011 | Review Permalink
VanVanVan
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars This isn't your typical neo-prog. Come to think of it, this isn't really your typical anything. Having far more in common with bands like The Mars Volta and The Dear Hunter than with Marillion or IQ, Children of Nova present a thoroughly modern sounding release in contrast with a genre that, despite its name, often seems to be hanging onto the past. Nonetheless, this album should have strong appeal with most prog fans and especially fans of the arm of the genre that has moved more towards alt-rock.

'The Complexity of Light' starts off with some tribal-sounding drumming over some slightly distorted guitar drones. These drones eventually coalesce into a riff proper, and vocals enter soon after in a style that references, in varying degrees, many of the aforementioned bands. The instrumental parts of the track stay eclectic throughout, with a very versatile guitar part moving from heavy riffing to psychedelic atmospheres and running the gamut of everything in between. 'The Complexity of Light' is a very, well, complex track, with several themes switching in and out, but melody is never sacrificed. In fact, much of the track feels positively anthemic due to the combination of the excellent vocal melodies and the sheer gusto with which they are delivered.

'Arcaedion' is a bit more of a straightforward track, but it's excellent regardless. Beginning with a driving guitar part, the track quickly develops a strong sense of drama, similar to the style of bands such as Coheed and Cambria, with an epic chorus to match. A very intense vocal freak-out towards the end of the track heavily reminds of the Mars Volta as well, proving quite neatly that this group is not content to merely sit in one style or make anything too easy on themselves.

'The Fall of Aphonia' takes on a more atmospheric approach; though there's definitely still some heavier riffing the guitar is allowed to take on a variety of roles, delving at various points into psychedelic soundscapes and even some very brief post-rock-ish drones. Some understated but effective keyboard shows up as well, helping to give the track a unique, varied sound, and of course the excellent vocal melodies and harmonies keep the song extremely compelling and engaging throughout.

'Second Sight Blackout' delves even further into psychedelia, starting off with some positively Floydian soundscapes and a much more languid vocal delivery that nonetheless retains the excellent sense of harmony that Children of Nova have developed throughout the release. At about the 2 minute mark the song kicks back into overdrive, introducing some falsetto, almost operatic vocals and of course more of the sharp guitar riffs that have pervaded the album. If nothing else you have to be impressed by the sheer compositional and musical skill on display here; though it may not have any extended solo passages or even fit the standard definition of 'prog,' this, (like every other song on the album) is an incredibly engaging listen, compellingly composed and precisely performed.

'The Order' certainly doesn't buck the trend of excellence. With a darker, more ominous sound than some of the other tracks, it maintains the excellent sense of drama on the album, giving the impression that you're listening to an epic story even if you can't quite make out the lyrics. The vocal performance, which of course has been stellar throughout, somehow kicks it up yet another notch for this song, with impressively high falsetto passages, beautiful wordless emoting, and even an incredibly intense scream at one point towards the end of the track. All of this really lifts the track from merely 'good' to completely great, and it works perfectly in this climactic penultimate track.

'We Collide' is the longest track on the album, and it makes for a fine closer, encapsulating everything that's been great about the release as a whole. Virtuosic playing that avoids being show-offish, a variety of different themes and of course, compelling and anthemic melodies make this final track a real treat. Encompassing a greater variety of sounds than perhaps any other track on the album, 'We Collide' feels like an appropriately epic closer and really helps in closing off the album on a high note. Nonstop, complex riffing is used to great effect, providing a perpetual backdrop of sound but never intruding into the spotlight. A great track that ends the album very well.

Overall, this is a very good release having only the minor flaw of homogeneity. As I mentioned, this isn't a huge problem as every song is so strong in its melodies, but there isn't a huge variety of sonic textures. In the grand scope of things, however, that's an incredibly minor complaint, and The Complexity of Light ends up being an incredibly compelling, fresh-sounding release. Highly recommended.

4/5

Report this review (#731832)
Posted Tuesday, April 17, 2012 | Review Permalink

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