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Clandestine - The Invalid CD (album) cover




Progressive Metal

3.96 | 7 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Progressive metal, both with typical and fresh elements.

What do you think of when you think of progressive metal? Semi-operatic vocals in the upper-register being forced into your head for the billionth time? Relentlessly complicated yet melodic riffage and solos? Well, Clandestine should be an interesting change of pace, should you decide to listen to this little-known about band.

Compared to the obvious stalwarts in the progressive metal genre and their albums that typically sound identical to each other, The Invalid is a bit different. First of all, the suffocating complexity mashed into endless passages of relentless instrumental noodling is not present here, traded out for tracks with interesting but manageable song structures, which is fortunate for people like myself who value strong songs rather than explicit virtuosity. Also, the guitar and bass riffing, in contrast to the shiny post-'80s hair metal melodies that have been recycled in progressive metal over the past 30 years, is much more modern sounding, similar to bands like Evanescence or Lacuna Coil (don't stop reading!). Still, even with the tracks on this album being more song-oriented rather than shred- or complexity-oriented, there are still noticeable moments of time changes and odd phrasing that keep the prog fan in me on the edge of my seat, though the riffs and phrases themselves are not terribly complex individually either but instead opt for solid memorability. The drumming, which I honestly never really notice, are not exactly stellar, but they do provide a great foundation for the songs, which I feel is important.

Another comparison to the aforementioned female-fronted metal bands of the 2000s: Instead of a long-haired male belting out post-'80s operatic hair metal vocals that have become a stereotypical burden of the progressive metal genre, we have the lovely June Park, a (beautiful) South Korean female vocalist who came to the US to form this band, and she offers a great array of vocal styles, ranging from sweet to powerful melodic belting to piercing screams/growls (seldom used, but to great effect), which honestly makes Clandestine a breath of fresh air after being so accustomed to the typical Dream Theater and Fates Warning wannabes. In my opinion, since this band is Park's project and because she offers a considerably varied performance, she steals the show on this album for the most part, but that also could be because I'm somewhat attracted to her in a romantic way, but that is an entirely different review.

Anyway, to the tracks themselves -- this album, though firmly rooted in a modern progressive metal style, offers a very dynamic set of songs. You've got (my personal favorite) "Silent Sin", which is a rather subdued and lightly poppy track that starts off with June's sweet vocals and stuttering electronics that eventually breaks into the superbly infectious melodic chorus which is definitely a fist-pumper, and I definitely scream this song at the top of my lungs while driving around town. There is, of course, the obligatory (albeit short) progressive epic title track, which starts off with steamy, industrial ambience before breaking into a heart-racing creepy section with the staccato melody and Park's voice both being childish, and then suddenly you are introduced to a slow crushing metal riff that sounds nearly cosmic -- this song goes through a few progressive changes within its short runtime, being both suitably complex and seriously catchy, which is one of the main reasons why Rush is so good, and rarely have I heard this type of composition style pulled off so well as it has been here. The final track, "Comatose", is in a similar compact- yet-fun-filled style but coincidentally gives off a stronger Rush meets Dream Theater beginning melody (seriously, I dare you to not hear those two bands' influence here), and is one of the brightest and optimistic sounding tracks on this album, which is a great relief after the stark pessimism of the previous track.

In conclusion, though many others might not think so because of the obvious lack of explicit virtuosity through flashy playing and extensive composition lengths, this is a fantastic progressive metal album that changes up the stereotypical formula that we've all heard way too many times. The uniqueness of this album somehow combined with the familiarity of catchy melodies makes this The Invalid stand out as something new, something accessible, something with musical integrity, and something worth hearing on the radio someday (which I hope for, for such a deserving band).

colorofmoney91 | 4/5 |


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