Life Through A Mirror

Written by: CEM on 20/08/2014 17:18:49

Spawned from a passion for creating order out of chaos, the boys from the world’s most culturally diverse city have initiated their return. Formed in 2009, Toronto-based Structures have only delivered one full-length prior to this release and one EP, “All of the Above” released only months after gathering. With blind fury they have managed to tear down all barriers conventionally built around young -core bands. Rendering tours with absurdly large bands (Parkway Drive, Veil of Maya, Architects, etc..) has allowed them to divvy up a large enough fan base within the tech community to assert a fearful dominance. Due to this capability, expectations have grown exponentially, which can definitely be felt by their absence of new material. After unexpected alterations in their line-up a seed of skepticism was planted within many fans, yet the opportunity to see whether Structures have produced enough saws during their time in the studio has finally arrived, as their newest installment, “Life Through A Mirror”, was released through Sumerian records on the 13th of May, 2014.

The level of priority for me to get a hold of this album seems like a reasonable starting point for this review. Having seen them twice on two vastly dissimilar stages in terms of size and sound, as well as the odd blasting of “Divided By” on multiple lengthy car journeys one could say I had truly acquired a deep appreciation for these guys. The presumption of having experienced their most filtered and concept driven sound on their last record has also greatly supplemented my anxiousness. Sadly, once I could eventually get my hands on and ears around "Life Through A Mirror" I was overwhelmed by an unintentional apathy towards the vocals. Giving it a good thrice over I was still reserved. Their ability to create a unique listening experience seems to be dormant and only awakens at certain points throughout their newest rendition of prog-core. I strictly disagree with the majority of Youtubers who expressively compare tracks like “My Conscience” and “Extinction” to a down-tuned Counterparts. On the other hand their hardcore influences have certainly become more predominant.

An eerie album introduction using the same key and guitar phrase as “At Las(t)”, almost mocking their previous work, commences the musical reckoning that has required so much time and meticulousness. Distorted cinematic drums relinquish the guitar part of its prominence and lead the listener into a seemingly random breakdown. Unbeknownst to some it was supposedly rhythmically based off of the GPS coordinates of the fictional mass sum of money Walter White from AMC’s Breaking Bad hid in the T.v. series. The manner in which secretive influences are used by guitarists Spyros Georgiou and Brendon in terms of the rhythmic and instrumental composition is wildly impressive. Nonetheless, being incapable of determining the exact purpose of this style of writing does not prevent me from enjoying the thought. To my dismay, the high point of this album appears a little too late to save the overall divinity expected from three years of work. The track entitled “Requiem” pleased me throughout. Although they have decided to add structure to their otherwise sporadic style, this track collaborates seamlessly with this adjustment whilst retaining self-awareness of “their” sound. A bludgeoning chorus integrates the promotion of high levels of volume threshold on their noise gates and the contemporary essence that prior to this track gets lost in some of their straightforwardness.

The lyricism is undoubtedly similar to their previous work and still provides an interesting perspective. By drawing on concepts of prehistoric hardcore (ex. Agnostic Front's “Victim in Pain”) and by simply applying modern afflictions, a serious societal relevance is constructed. An example of this would be in the track “The Worst of Both Worlds”:

Are you so blind you can't see anything at all?

Except the screen you've burned into the back of your skull.

Do you feel numb to the touch?

It's an electric emotion that separates heart from the thumb.

And heart from the lung.

On the list of addictions it's still number one.

We're a step back from evolution.

But when life hands you lemons you make due.

Maintaining the guided anger of fellow bands such as Stray From the Path and Northlane, former guitarist Brendon Padjasek lacks the confidence to remove the impact of his monotony on this album. This is, however, understandable given the circumstances of their former vocalist’s departure and what seems like a method of prolonging their creative control of the project. As far as composers and skilled musicians go I cannot for the life of me find any group that could have created something as intriguing or masterful at such a young age. Naturally I’m referring to previous album “Divided By”, produced by the Machine (Suicide Silence, Lamb of God, and so many others..) while the average age of the group was around nineteen at the time. Products of their own intelligence, they reaped what they could sow from the budding Meshuggah reprisal. Blending erratic shifts in tempo, key and most notably time signature were their strengths as artists. This amount of praise and courteousness unfortunately only extends to their previous work as a band.

Another ascension of optimism here though, occurs near the end when their title track “Life through a Mirror” kicks off. Heart-warming groove and unanticipated down lifted movements helps them find fluidity. A fluidity that resonates a maturity and takes a step forward from just recording random parts and puzzle piecing them together, something they have been quite outspoken about in their previous studio diaries. As an avid listener I was hoping for a lot more depth and coherency, but instead received an semi-indecisive 40 minutes. Bands that experiment should not be hated upon as I have to onto Structures just now. In my defense they should have experimented a lot more. Andrew McEnaney is still the most ingenious drummer to have experienced live, and hopefully he can benefit from this slightly less inventive continuation. With slices of the album proposing greatness I am having a difficult time assessing their overall performance. All in all they failed to take that leap past expectations and find themselves situated in a limbo of mediocrity and overproduction. My appreciation for their former work will have me waiting for another attempt; sadly a strict, focused and progress driven producer might be all that they need.

Download: Buried, The Worst of Both Worlds, Requiem, Life Through a Mirror
For The Fans Of: Modern Day Babylon, Northlane, Stray from the path, Anup Sastry and The Ghost Inside

Release date 13.05.2014
Sumerian Records

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