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Artificial Language - Now We Sleep CD (album) cover

NOW WE SLEEP

Artificial Language

 

Progressive Metal

4.00 | 2 ratings

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TCat
4 stars "Artificial Language" is a progressive metal band from the US formed in 2015. They released their debut album in 2017, and a few years later, in May of 2019, the released this, their second album, "Now We Sleep". The line-up for the band has remained the same for both albums, namely Shay Lewis on vocals; Victor Corral on guitar; Charlie Robbins also on guitar; Joshua Riojan on bass; Jonathon Simpson on keyboards; and Jeron Schapansky on drums. This album has 9 tracks with a total run time of just over 38 minutes. The first and last tracks are each over 6 minutes, and they bookend the shorter tracks in between which remain between 3 and 4 minutes each.

"The Back of My Mind" starts with atmospheric guitars and sustained keys making a soft beginning, but slowly building until a sudden explosion of heavy guitar chords catapult the song into prog metal territory as expected, and the vocals start in. After a solid beginning, things slow down and become quite dynamic with melodious keys and vocals and sudden onslaughts of heaviness. The vocals match the attitude of the music and Shay definitely has the right voice for this dynamic music. The shifting meters and tempos are all well thought out, and during this six minutes, shows us the palette that this band can work with. There is a great guitar solo and plenty of heavy riffs, but there is also a lot of softer sections and times when the synths also shine, but the overall tone is heavy with plenty of progressive moves.

So now, the album plays through several shorter tracks. "Endless Naught" begins with the same style as previous, but moves to some very surprisingly touching and softer passages, moving between heavy and soft passages with hardly even blinking an eye. You can be listening to a rousing guitar solo in one moment and then hearing a piano rhapsody the next, all of this in a space of under 4 minutes. Of course, the vocalist is able to keep up with no problem, and the music still moves smoothly along. "Pulses" has a more jazz style to it, but remaining with the heavy and progressive sound. Song structure is non- traditional, even through these shorter songs with surprises around every turn, but everything still sounds concise and smooth. This complexity continues in "Further From the Surface", but returning to the heavier sound overall. With this quick track, they still seem to find time to insert an excellent guitar solo. The band proves that if you don't have to deal with the standard song structure, that you can still develop excellent progressive metal in short tracks.

"The Wild Haunt" continues with this smooth complexity moving from heavy sounds involving a balanced use of guitars and synths, suddenly moving to a pensive jazz passage, going to a heavy section and returning to the main theme before it ends with atmospheric synths. "Trail of Lights" is the first single for the album. Even though it has the length of a radio friendly track, it still doesn't shirk in complexity, and the playful synths contrast nicely with the heavy guitar chords and the vocals are dynamic and full as usual. This progressiveness in short dynamic chunks continues with "There's No bottom to This" (which features a carny-style piano in the middle) and "Keep Yourself Hidden" (which returns to a prog-jazz-fusion style). All of the instrumentalists prove their talents are finely honed as they all have time to shine with excellent guitar solos and embellishments shared with plenty of synth and keyboard passages that keep things interesting and add little hints of humor and plenty of variety throughout.

The last track is the 7 minute title track and features the regular vocalist and a guest vocalist Michael Lessard from "The Contortionist". A nice combination of plucked strings, synths and piano chords make the sound reflective. The vocals start with acoustic guitars together with a symphonic atmosphere build in intensity. Electric guitars join in from time to time, but these heavier passages quickly get swapped out by pensive and mellower sections, and you get another gem of a track, this one gets more time for development, which bring it up to a higher level. Excellent track, they saved the best for last for sure.

This album is very dynamic and interesting with some astounding complexity and emotion throughout. The one complaint I have is that the album is too short and some of the shorter tracks could have been even better if developed a little more. But the shorter tracks also prove that so much ground can be covered musically when you don't have to devote so much time to creating standard song structures where verses and choruses have to be repeated. The shortness of most of the tracks work both to the detriment and strength of this album. This band is very talented, and I would hope to see more music from them with a little more experimentation and development within songs. The best tracks here are the two tracks that bookend the album, but that's not to say that there isn't anything interesting in between, because there is. A bit more development would have made this even better. 4 stars.

TCat | 4/5 |

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