Reviewed: December 2016
Released: 2015, Metal Blade
Reviewer: Kyle Moore, the Metal Magnus
The line between genius and weird is often razor-thin. Prog metal often aspires to straddle that line, but to my ears, often to predictable and listless results. If one were to look at a Venn diagram of Grateful Dead fans and Dream Theater fans, there would be a disturbing amount of overlap – all those noodley solos and aimless meanderings lead to a particular type of listener, one of which I am decidedly not. So by daring to approach a prog album, I am wary of my own bias. Thankfully, California’s Native construct attempts to lean into the “weird” side of that edge, unapologetically embracing guitarist Myles Yang’s bizarre musical vision of unpredictable, multi-genre prog.
Writing coherently about this record is made very challenging by how often the different tracks change pace. Opening tune “Mute” flips between key changes, moods, and vocal styles so quickly and often as to be disorienting. There simply isn’t another band I’ve encountered that possesses, and mostly harnesses, such dizzying sonic creativity. This jumpiness works as both a unique asset and an occasionally perplexing hindrance all at once. While never being aimless or technical for its own sake, there are so many tantalizing tidbits of music that could develop incredibly, were they given a bit more time.
As I’ve typed and retyped various paragraphs about QUIET WORLD, I am consistently finding myself near-speechless as I attempt to describe the music contained within. Fragments of jazz piano yield to epic blastbeat-backed riffs, which in turn morph into bits that would feel familiar on a Broadway stage. Throughout, consistently sing-a-long-able melodies pop up, taking away from my usual criticism of prog, which is that it feels so pointedly random as to be unfollowable. Native Construct challenges the heck out of their listeners to follow a difficult musical design, but they sure do make it worth our while. With some more seasoning and better orchestrations, Native Construct could turn out to be the band that makes prog metal listenable for more than just Deadheads.
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