People who share music with you are good people. When Progman Rob sends me music to review, it’s like I have a personal Pandora-station making suggestions based on what he knows like. It’s pretty cool. [“awww, Ryan. -Rob]
The email arrived with no real fanfare (subject: “Review?” – body: “Just got this one. Interested?”) so I wasn’t swayed going in. I watched the track “Reanimate;” The vid shows the band performing live on stage (opening for Textures in a few shots) interspersed with shots of the band goofing off on the road. The song has a bouncy mid-tempo grind and features just a few of the vocal styles of front-man Thimo Franssen, including melodic shouts and rhythmic grunts vocalized over a textured dual-guitar style in a Gojira/Devin Townsend vein and a definite hook that sticks in the mind. As one of the shortest songs on the CD, I began to wonder how they stretched out the music. My interest was piqued so I started from the start of the band’s new full-length recording “Gaia” just released 1/18/2018.
The promo material indicates “Progressive Groove Metal” and once I got to the guitar solo break on track one Colossus I began to understand what I was getting into. This isn’t just meaty riffs that straddle djent, grunge and post-metal. The change in atmosphere at just about the half-way point (4:20) featuring a tasty guitar solo from the neck-pickup then a brief, dreamy dynamic change which busts back into the track and slides easily into Circular Motions. The Thimo’s voice ticks the “melodic hard rock” box and the song
“Emissary” has a giant 90s metal influence, from industrial metal, Sevendust/Machine Head; but again, you get to the middle of the song and you have been blasted into a space that is, for me, occupied by Devin Townsend insofar as it’s not just part of a song but part of the journey of this entire album.
All of this has prepared the way for “Hydrosphere.” Dynamic, challenging, melodic, syncopated; reminiscent of the intensity of Pain of Salvation, Opeth, Intronaut or The Ocean. Songs like this are what we’re digging for. This also makes a fantastic “end of side A” in my mind.
Setbreak: Mixed by Tymon Kruidenier (ex-Cynic, Exivious). Music written by David Luiten who also is credited for Guitars, keyboards and backing vocals. Guitars also performed by Maarten Stoelhorst. Bart Merkus on bass guitars, cello and backing vocals. Drums and percussion by Pim Goverde.
The song “War” which opens “Side B” slaps you across the face with what reminds me of Strapping Young Lad (yes, I realize this is turning out to be “can you hear how influenced by Devin Townsend the music on Gaia is but I digress). Pretty soon I was asking myself “what song is this again?” because we’ve disappeared somewhere else along the way. Creative songwriting indeed.
Now I’m back at “Reanimate,” the first track I heard from Extremities. This track makes more sense now that I’m on board with the band and the flow of Gaia. “Through The Dreamscape” and “The Inward Eye” round out the CD with a combined length of 25 minutes. The former confirms the influence of modern Opeth which also means “influenced classic progressive rock” and “influenced by 90s progressive metal.” The keyboards may be simple but they do the trick of keeping your brain floating over the syncopated rhythm guitars and emotional, melodic vocals.
The journey intensifies and all of the sudden you’re bouncing around like an outtake from Mastodon’s rehearsal jams for the beginning of the latter. And you know they mean business when the saxophone of Ferry Luiten arrives and a solid melodic gauntlet is thrown down at 1:30. The chords and progressions seem to tie in with the previous track.
There’s a certain the way the building blocks of these last two songs are constructed; it is still part of a journey we’re on but we’re toward the end of it and the music reflects that emotion somehow; it’s rather epic. We stop by the melody at the half-way point. Then there’s a refreshing “Bowie plays sax with Opeth” segment to put the punctuation mark at the end.
There are bands that won’t do in a whole career what Extremities have done with their debut Gaia. Something that is current, fresh, and forward-thinking but obviously influenced by many high-quality sources. Hopefully this is a first statement in many to come.
- Colossus 7:53
- Circular Motions 6:23
- Emissary 5:47
- Hydrosphere 8:22
- War 4:41
- Reanimate 4:43
- Through The Dreamscape 7:16
- The Inward Eye 17:57
Total playing time 63 m 7 sec
Label: Painted Bass Records