Written by: MN on 15/04/2015 00:43:45

Checking out Clutter marks my first venture into the Portuguese metal landscape, where the quintet leaves a lasting impression of a band ready to take on the international market. Hailing from Leiria, Portugal, Clutter fit firmly with the overarching description of progressive metal in its most modern expression, although in terms of tempo and riff-style, Clutter is also heavily inspired by the groove metal sound. It is exactly this combination of neo-progressive metal and groove along the lines of Skyharbor, Periphery and Tesseract intermeshed with Damageplan and Machine Head, that keeps the listener interested throughout this highly successful debut.

The band is anchored by vocalist João Vendeirinho, who provides largely clean vocals but also dabbles in screams and low-growls, which serves as a proof of immense versatility and range. Not unlike Tompkins of Tesseract, the highly melodious vocal line is to be embraced rather than hoping for raucous growling. Having a larger fraction of clean vocals is actually modern metal trend I am exponentially warming towards, and Clutter is no exception. The expression is both melancholic, soothing, chaotic, transcendental and very well constructed, both in the melodious expression, for example found in the gorgeous interlude "The Light...", which is kicked into immense motion by the follow up track "The Orb", where the heavy riffs and space-like solo work reminisces some of the more dynamic Protest The Hero tracks. "Obsidian" is a conceptual album that revolves around the story of a girl who struggles and fights against injustices in a futuristic dystopic world, suffering under dictatorship. The principal songwriter and mastermind is the guitarist, Gonçalo Crespo, who also happens to have produced the record.

The actual album is narratively constructed by introductory tracks followed by conceptual tracks like "The Dance" and "The Dread", giving some sort of red thread throughout, with one stand-out movement called "The Journey" divided into three parts, of which the centre piece, "The Gallows", is a brooding concoction of anger and cacophony of a length of more than 10 minutes of playtime. This song also introduces some Portuguese vocals which brings a lot of originality to the lyrical content. It is clearly a language that can sound gorgeous when sung by the correct person, and at no point do I feel a loss of interest despite not understanding content. "The Enemy" brings some of the sci-fi/guitar nerdiness back into the mix, even including some blast beats to boot up the experience for the final track in form of "The Exit", that has the hooks of a nu-metal basher, where the chorus has multiple vocals providing an anthemic finish to the album.

Clutter have emerged in a period where their own expression is becoming extremely popular, as bands like Tesseract are so hyped they find themselves needing to be the first band to have played on a stage entirely made of ice. This progressive metal trend is difficult to keep up with, but my money is on Clutter to stay properly buoyant in the sea of bands doing similar things. They definitely deserve a thorough listen. This is one of the better releases of 2015 thus far. Enjoy.

Download: The Exit, The Orb, The Journey Part II: The Gallows
For The Fans Of: Corelia, Animals As Leaders, Uneven Structure

Release date 15.01.2015

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