Wednesday, 15 May 2013
Xenatopia, when heavy metal gets a Symbolic polishing.
As musical genres go 'Prog' has been a round for a long time you can trace it's roots back into classical music and the work of the avantgarde composers, that metal bands would embrace it sooner or later was in my eyes a logical step . Now as we know 'Metal Rock' is a music which we most expect to share with between one and four hundred close friends in a club or maybe several thousands out at a festival, however Symbolic have recorded a new album "Xenatopia" that you might want to experience first at home over a glass or two of something refreshing because it is much more thought provoking than your average metal offering. While still giving out the fast paced heavy rhythms guaranteed to get your heart rate up, the band employ the cunning device of including acoustically biased songs that allow time to get your breath back before racing off again down the metal road. It is a 'concept' album which tells a story that would fit seamlessly into one of Vin Diesels 'Riddick' type cinematic offerings,a totalitarian regime kidnapping and brainwashing citizens, subverting their will and the victims attempts to escape. This is the second Prog metal concept album I have experienced in a matter of months previously I was at Nightwish's master work Imaginarium and I have to say Xenatopia stands up well by comparison it is similarly multilayered, very well constructed and played by a band tighter than dozen groupies in a Mini Cooper. The first track starts in a strangely orchestral way until the drummer hammers a path through - now we are running Metal with a big 'M' with heavy as lead bass riffs , it is Tom Wallace on drums with drive and power right at the peak of his game , likewise the heavy over driven guitar of Steve Ray Potts and thumping bass of Robert Fernadez create that create a classic metal vibe . Singer Scott Bruce with more than power enough to live with the metal barrages is given the story tellers role with the lyrics which he discharges like he was born to do it . You hear many elements in the album common to the old school metal bands so the whole album will be familiar territory to those who grew up to a soundtrack of Sabbath,Metallica,Def Leppard etc and it should please all those hardcore metallers. Don't imagine we are talking the excesses of conceptual Prog with fifteen minute solos this is a full on integrated band experience with the musicians bouncing themes off each other and occasional short solos to season the pie it is a very polished metal album. I say you should take the opportunity to dip into this album it is that bit different to mainstream metal offerings more challenging more involving than standalone songs. It would also make a very fine lesson for young bands that it is not necessary for everybody to play as loud as possible to drown out the singer (unless of course he is really bad). Symbolic are based around San Diego, California and can be seen gigging in that area. They came together in 2009 to play their own uncompromising Prog against the mainsteam of the genre and to date have produced four albums two of which have been concepts, the fourth is of course Xenotopia and is a continuing step in the process of pushing against boundaries, it has spawned a single 'Taken' which is receiving FM airplay on US stations a vindication of the work the band pioneers . Since we embarked on this review drummer Tom Wallace has parted from Symbolic to pursue a separate project with "The Dolan Brotherhood" the percussion duties having now been placed in the very capable hands of Diana J Cameron who joins the ever increasing number of Lady Metal Percussionists Symbolic's Facebook page is at https://www.facebook.com/Symbolic4?ref=ts&fref=ts