Written by: AP on 25/08/2016 18:52:42

The first part of a musical diptych to be fulfilled by “Genotype” next year, “Phenotype” was originally announced as a single hour-long track, but unless the news was just distilled from unverified gossip, the outing appears to have been both trimmed and split up into a more digestible format before its release. Certainly the album — the Dutch progressive metallers’ first recorded output since 2011’s “Dualism” — is devoid of the seamless, uninterrupted flow of such an effort, but whether that is to the detriment of Textures’ ambition comes down to subjective opinion.

In its current arrangement though, “Phenotype” features both clearcut highlights and less impactful picks across its nine tracks of proggy djent, and as such it loses the smokescreen of pinning its mundane moments as useful lulls in the dynamics of a single, lengthy song. In isolation, those lulls seem unnecessary — one of them, a somewhat underwhelming drum solo by Stef Broks, even places ironic emphasis on this by its title: “Meander”. Fortunately, that and the subsequent chug orgy of “Erosion” are given the required counterbalance by the surrounding “Illuminate the Trail” and “Fourth Prime”, which clock in a combined 14-and-a-half minutes of exposing the variety of Textures’ arsenal. From soaring, melodic breaks, through sections of polyrhythmic chug, to synth solos by Uri Dijk, not only are they the two most quintessentially prog songs “Phenotype” has to offer, but also dead-on representative of modern progressive metal in general, in terms of dynamics and the mishmash of inspiration from power metal to metalcore.

Without a doubt the most striking example of Textures’ handicraft, however, is “Oceans Collide”, which detonates the record into existence in best mimicry of Meshuggah, with a nonlinear staccato pattern and Daniël de Jongh’s bellicose screaming setting an intense tone straight out of the gate. De Jongh chose wisely to keep his clean pipes to a minimum so as to preserve the song’s dark characteristics and thus create a beautiful contrast between it and the following “New Horizons”, which apart from momentary lapses into all-out aggression, aligns itself closer to artists such as Devin Townsend or Strapping Young Lad. Indeed, “Phenotype” draws a strong dichotomy between melodicism and frenzy as the interplay of dissonance and soaring grandeur in “Shaping a Single Grain of Sand” further underlines. And this is as much Textures’ most potent weapon as its main hindrance to attracting an audience outside the realm of technical and/or progressive metal; the songs seldom stray from providing a diverse and interesting listening experience, but neither aspect of the music is emphasised to a degree capable of producing epiphanies.

One wonders how the coming “Genotype” will be shaped then, as by definition it should take the form of a blueprint for the band’s observable characteristics (its phenotype). Will the music heard on “Phenotype” be broken down into its elementary building blocks — its underlying influences, perhaps? Until such a time however, “Phenotype” must take the driving seat in satisfying existing, and luring in new fans, and in that regard, the album lacks the instant appeal needed to thrust Textures into the elite of this genre.


Download: Oceans Collide, Shaping a Single Grain of Sand, The Fourth Prime
For the fans of: Periphery, TesseracT, Uneven Structure
Listen: Facebook

Release date 05.02.2016
Nuclear Blast

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