Review by Billy Geary
If our friends on the other side of the globe the French are known for one thing, it most certainly isn’t for their music scene, let alone experimental metal. With their debut album Februus, French metallers Uneven Structure are about to change all of that. Combining the atmosphere of bands like Pink Floyd with the intensity of Meshuggah, the French sextet have created an album that is both brutal and beautiful, often at the same time.
Opener and first single ‘Awaken’ bursts out of the speakers after an ambient introduction; serving as an excellent microcosm for what Uneven Structure are all about in the space of two minutes. By marrying beautiful, haunting ambience with jarring, down tuned riffs, the band have essentially taken the stereotypical djent sound and done it properly. Bands like Tesseract hint at the ambient side of he music, while there are a plethora of bands chugging away from the sake of it, but Uneven Structure are the first group to bring the two together an actually make it work. The perfect example of this is ‘Frost,’ which carries the listener through beautiful atmospheres, which are then completely replaced by a flurry of riffs and screams. On ‘Frost’ in particular, this works incredibly well, with the interchanging heavy guitars and lightly picked guitars making for one of the best songs to be released this year.
Where Februus really succeeds is the manner in which the production brings out the more ambient and fragile moments of the record, in effect making these moments the album’s centrepiece. Mention must be made to vocalist Mattheiu Romarin whose monumental screams perfectly juxtapose his equally outstanding clean vocals. One only has to look to tracks like ‘Hail’ and the aptly named ‘Finale’ for an example of this. Comparisons will be made to people like Mikael Akerfeldt in terms of sound; particularly with respect to his clean vocals. Polyrhythms abound throughout the album, with drummer Christian Schreill laying claim to some impressive drum fills (see ‘Hail’) and only further increase the intensity of the record.
By all rights, Februus could have easily been quite a derivative, unmemorable album, especially given how hard it is to create something that stands out in a vastly overpopulated style of music. However, Februus the complete opposite in that by focusing more on creating an atmosphere and drawing the listener to their sound, it immediately becomes memorable. In fact, the only real fault in the record is that the heavier parts can be construed as becoming quite repetitive as the album progresses. However, given the focus of Februus is creating an atmosphere and drawing out emotion, the occasional derivative riff is easily forgotten.
With Februus, Uneven Structure have achieved the perfect medium between crushing heaviness and beautiful ambience. The end result is djent done properly and Uneven Structure are well deserving of the copious amounts of praise that will come with the release of their debut. Februus is a phenomenal release and will most definitely go down as one of the albums of 2011.
Review by Billy Geary