There is one major problem when it comes to prog rock, you can either get it right, and you’ll create something incredibly captivating, awe inspiring, and music that will stick with you for years to come; or you can create something that just sounds like a complete mess. You really have to be incredibly skilled at both playing, but also writing music to create even decent music. Prog rock is so technical that it really is so easy to create what is essentially audible diarrhoea. Kintsugi is in actual fact the Japanese art of fixing broken plates, bowls etc with a golden resin, which they believe makes it more beautiful, unfortunately though, there isn’t enough gold that can fix this album. Kintsugi showed so much promise, the guitar work’s technical, fast paced and altogether quite stunning, but there are two glaring faults which brings the entire release crashing to its knees.
Let’s take the start of ‘Windlestraw’ for the first problem with this album. hAND seem to feel the need to add unnecessary sounds into their music, for what I can only decide is the need to be a bit more unique to everyone else and to stand out, but they’re just incredibly inessential and just ends up confusing the listener as to their involvement. The second, and quite possibly, most jarring problem comes when bassist and vocalist Kat Ward decides to sing. Her voice does not suit the music at all. Overall the music hAND produces for Kintsugi is fast paced, technical and really heavy. Her soft, almost moan-like, vocals do not suit the album at all, and that’s not even touching on the quality of the vocals themselves: let’s just say, she won’t be winning any singing contests any time soon sounding like this.
The tracks are actually quite varied and interesting, bar the aforementioned problems. ‘Nebula’ adds a steel stringed addition that sounds quite similar to prog legends such as Protest The Hero. The ability to mix things up a bit make the album interesting to some extent, but the ever present vocals hanging over the top of the tracks sadly ruins the entire experience. ‘Words To That Effect’ is probably the best track on the album, and even that ends up sounding like the theme to a soap drama.
It really is such a shame, as there is so much promise from the ability of all the instruments, but there really is not much from saving Kintsugi from the chopping block. There is not enough here to stop it from becoming an unlistenable mess. Like what was stated at the beginning, even the smallest problem can ruin a prog album, but this one has several and each one feels like another shot in the head of an already dead horse.