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Indukti - S.U.S.A.R. CD (album) cover

S.U.S.A.R.

Indukti

 

Experimental/Post Metal

4.07 | 265 ratings

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Gallifrey
4 stars SUSAR is the perfect progressive instrumental album. I say this, of course, in complete irony based around the fact that there are vocals on this record, but I feel that is one of the many things that add to make this such a great album instrumentally. Ever since progressive rock first cropped up in the late 60's, we have had bands trying their hand at a fully-instrumental variant of the style, to mixed results. Without the vocals, instrumental albums needed something to help the music flow, to give it a narrative, and they regularly flocked towards wacky sounding keyboards and solo duels to do the trick, which rarely worked. Quite frankly, instrumental albums, especially in a genre like progressive rock, completely bore me. There are exceptions, especially when it begins to border on post-rock, a genre known for its ability to stay afloat without vocals, but prog instrumental albums tend to lean so hard towards uncontrolled instrumental wankery, and because there is no room for the instrumentals to be subdued (because there are no vocals to support), the music loses all sense of melody and restraint and floats into nothingness.

And although the last 20 years have seen the invention and spread of progressive metal, instrumental albums in the style haven't got much better. In fact, one could argue that they've got even worse. Before SUSAR's release there was Liquid Tension Experiment, possibly the most indulgent and wanky group in existence, and after it we have the influx of "djent" and "tech metal" - with Blotted Science and all those legions of kids in their bedrooms making some of the most lifeless and coldly technical music I have ever heard. So could instrumental prog ever really exist as anything more than wanky garbage? Well, yes, it did. Briefly, as Indukti's debut record, SUSAR. SUSAR is, above all, an insanely unique release. It's a 75% instrumental album that features long instrumentals and brief vocal-led tracks (as opposed to the other way around which is the norm), it contains no keyboards (thank god), it flirts between the lines of progressive rock and metal, and is risen above mediocrity by two things - the guest voice of Riverside's Mariusz Duda, and the incredible violin of Ewa Jabłońska.

Mariusz is on three tracks here, although one of those is a very minimal contribution, and his voice acts as such a great break from the jamming instrumental onslaught of the longer tracks. Instead of using instrumental tracks as breaks like many vocal-based prog bands do, Indukti use Mariusz to create some pretty great, lower key music between the long songs. "Cold Inside" is the first of the two vocal track, which essentially feels like a softer Riverside track with a touch more folk, from the violin, and what I believe is a sitar (I could be wrong). While the song could have transitioned better from the opener, it definitely feels like the first vocal part of an immense epic - which "Freder" was the overture for. "Shade", the second vocal track, is definitely a far stronger song, and would probably be my favourite on the album if it weren't so short. Unlike "Cold Inside", it feels like far less of an interlude, and contains some great heavy riffs and tribal- like percussion that call Tool to mind. And to add to that, the "I TRULY AM THE SAME" hook line is one of Mariusz' best, ever.

Then there's the rest of the album - five songs, all longer than six minutes, and aside from some tribal wailing on "Freder", entirely instrumental. All of these pieces have such great energy flowing through them, and you can tell that a lot of them came about through hours of jamming together, because they all are so keyed in to what each instrument is doing and where the passage is gone. The guitars, bass and drums here are all relatively straight - we don't get huge wanky 42-note-per-second solos on this album, instead Indukti go for a very Tool- influenced, riff-heavy variant of prog metal jamming, and it makes for much better listening. Without wanky solos and without a keyboard player to splice in cheese, Indukti could play like this for hours and I wouldn't get bored. But all of this is accentuated and brought to life by the violin. Acting in the way a lead guitar would in this situation, the violin brings the melody, the contrast, the brightness, the intensity, and nearly makes this record on its own. With the melody being carried so wonderfully up high, the rest of the instruments can focus on rhythm, and there are some mighty fine rhythms in this album. A lot of the heavy guitars, and the way they jam them for long periods of time without reliance on a vocalist, remind me of sludge and post-metal bands like Isis and Neurosis. The metal guitars are thick and crunchy, but they know how to develop linearly, and aren't all-heavy-all-the-time, which is something those post-metal bands mastered in the early 2000's.

But, I must admit, the album does falter a little bit in the second half, and I think this is strengthened by the fact that Mariusz doesn't show up for the last 24 minutes. The best track out of the final three is probably "And Weak", the second part of "Cold Inside", but most of that is heavily relying on the melody of the former, and with the vocals missing, it doesn't feel quite as powerful. Both "Uluru" and "No 11811" are solid tracks, but aren't anywhere near as memorable as the first two instrumentals, especially since they essentially do the same thing. "Uluru", as the name suggests, has an interesting inclusion of a didgeridoo (something that groups like Tool have always been partial to), and although it's certainly a cool noise, it does feel a tad gimmicky, especially when it goes full gargle-mode in the middle of the song. The length of these pieces does seem to be a bit of a factor too, considering that long instrumental jams to tend to shift towards wank as they go along, and some parts of the last three tracks do lose the cohesion a bit.

I have to admit that this album is a bit of a missed opportunity, and there are a shockingly low number of bands playing this kind of music, but at the same time this could easily get very boring very fast. Aside from some hiccups, SUSAR is strong album from start to finish, taking the instrumental side of some of Tool's longer jams, throwing a violin all over it, bringing in some sludgy riffing, and having one of the 21st century's best vocalists sing a couple of tracks to keep it in check. Essential listening to check out, and if anyone wants instrumental prog metal that isn't wanky garbage, this is possibly the finest example.

8.1

Originally written for my Facebook page/blog: www.facebook.com/neoprogisbestprog

Gallifrey | 4/5 |

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