ALBUM REVIEW: Phenotype – Textures

WORDS: Laura McCarthy

TEXTURES are back, and after nearly five years since their last release with no word until recently on what to expect, the latest release Phenotype comes with little disappointments.

Oceans Collide is instantly energetic, the pacing is urgent and delightfully manic. It feels like an itch you’re likely to scratch until it bleeds. Vocally, the range is good here, with a lot of promise for more throughout the album. Nothing overwhelms the overall sound. It’s a colossal onslaught that’s for sure, all the better for its ever so gradual changes. The clean vocals aren’t at their strongest but again, add a quality in their gradual shift into more gravelly, screamed lyrics. For six minutes, this track files by, with so much in the way of drums, keys and various subtle ambient sound in with the heavier riffs.

TEXTURES have always been a band ready to try new things, and there are undoubtedly new, fresh feelings to the music here to that which has gone before. On saying this, New Horizons comes in with the ambient quality old fans are used to. These boys are masters of timing, in holding on before a drop into some heavy, ass kicking riffs. This track in particular is a joy. So full of energy, the motions take you from delight to an overwhelming desire to thrash, a wonderful combination for any music to make you feel. There is a more grounded feel to the guitar work. Again, this is a record that flaunts this bands skill in balancing their unique sound with the constant desire to change things up.

Shaping A Single Grain Of Sand begins as something new entirely, as a hard hitting, darker. Here, the new vocals are more recognisable, and lyrically this is a more metaphorical song, with more chaotic sounds, more aggressive playing, more intention. This is a gift of a track for those looking to lose themselves to both the technically challenging and the emotionally draining.

More often than not, there is a track on an album that feels like it encompasses the band as they currently stand. Illuminate the Trail starts with ever more beautiful soundscapes, before bellowing into the technically astounding melody. It’s an amazing blend of musical styles, which is what many fans will be craving. Heavy as metal core, complicated as technical metal and beautifully intricate as progressive metal. It all comes together here, in such a way as never before. Unusual, for certain, but welcome in every second if it’s huge, elaborate and magical. An absolute track to submerge your brain in, leave your body at the door folks, this is a stonker for the soul. In contrast, Meander marches with purpose into your ears. Being purely instrumental, and mainly percussion, the tempo sets high pulses in anticipation of the quality that comes from Erosion. Taking the same qualities in it’s softer sounds, the heavier side of the music becomes contrasted against this interlude, making a track that perfectly demonstrates the complexity that TEXTURES can achieve in the right hands. TEXTURES is a band seasoned in many musical styles, and they merge them into something completely their own each time they release a record. This is no exception. Shifting from a stunning piece of hard hitting melody, the song eases itself out in the harmonies of its vocalists, an almost poetic realisation of the songs title.

Following on in more atmospheric tones, the riffs of The Fourth Prime do indeed become more melodic, blending the primal roots of the songs with licks of higher, more complicated higher, lighter moments of melody. This is yet another track that takes its time in building to the climax of the song, if you can call it that. Not to say the track is slow, make no mistake. The shredding is flawless, the basslines impeccable, the beats on the kit are intricate and yet. There’s a looming quality in this track that surges with gradual force, like the waves as the tide rises, and with any great storm the build-up is worth the wait. Don’t be shocked to find yourself aching for that release of energy in the final minutes of this track.

Taking the slow approach to building into with keys in a haunting melody quite unlike anything else on this record, Zman sweeps away the base feelings of excitement and anger for something more ethereal. Much more simplistic, this might be skipped over by some in order to get to the end of the record. This would be missing what is essentially a long interlude into the finale of the album, Timeless. Once again bringing back the elements of prog, metal core and technical that fans love, this flaunts them all, this is a great way to complete this solid album.

For fans of the band, and for those looking to expand into something new, something usual, then Phenotype is the album to pick up. TEXTURES have taken their time crafting this album and it shows, nothing is rushed, the melodies are stunning and there is a brightness and a feeling of confidence that come with creating something that is one again, identifiable and yet completely original.

Rating: 7/10

Phenotype is set for release on February 5th via Nuclear Blast Records.