Textures is a band that has really never strayed too far from the platform in which they began. Their debut, Polars, had a very youthful ‘djent’ like feel with some post-hardcore production in spots but the progressive attack was dominant in most songs, so you knew what you were getting into. After that, on the following albums, even while getting melodic, and more refined, the progressive metal stylings really were the glue of the sound. And if you’re a fan you know they really have hit their stride in the last two releases, Silhouettes and Dualism.
Phenotype completely blows those albums off the map.
And it takes a lot for me to say that because there are some outstanding tracks on both, and as full records, both are excellent experiences from start to finish. But Textures officially is dialed in, locked on target and prepared to own this genre now. Whatever you want to call aggressive progressive metal now, it’s theirs for the taking.
This isn’t to say you can’t identify with their influences at times. When they get heavy, you hear a little Meshuggah, or when they get epic you hear a bit of Devin Townsend, but then again, those two influence basically everyone anyways. It’s more a matter who has the sound that’s their own without being ripoffs. Texture is, without a doubt, their own band.
“Oceans Collide” opens with an outstanding energy that never really lets up through the whole album but it’s the second track, “New Horizons” that lets you know who’s in charge. In the course of about 90 seconds, the band goes from one of their trademark floating melodic phrases into a blazing assault of pit heavy mid tempo metal and then into one of the greatest fast picking guitar parts I’ve ever heard in my life. It’s like the song sums up the group in that short of amount of time. But what makes this album a signal of the band completely evolving into something nearly untouchable is what they’ve done to improve on all levels.
Dualism was a great record in that they paced themselves. It also had a very raw, almost strained vocal mix that at times sounded too on top of the mix. Phenotype has none of that. The mix is HUGE. And the vocals sit way better into the mix during the melodic parts but the compression on the screams is reminiscent of “City”- era Strapping Young Lad. The guitar mix is smoother, less crunchy and more blistering while Stef Broks drum work has to put him into the top 5 in metal at this point. As shown on “Meander” which is a quick drum beatdown that’s heavily effected for some cool audio candy.
By the time “Zman” and “Timeless” roll up to finish the 43 minute album off you’re still trying to catch your breath. But both finish the album with a soaring vibe that makes you want to hit the replay button almost instantly.
So in short, if you know this band, you’ll probably already own this by the time you read this. If you don’t and you call yourself a fan of ultra-talented musicianship, metal, and creativity, you owe it to yourself to download or buy this as soon as possible. If this doesn’t finish in my top spot for the year it will only be because someone named Meshuggah or Devin puts an album out in 2016. Otherwise, its Textures by a mile. The first great album of 2016.
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