Artist: Stealing Axion
Release: Moments (Album)
Release Date: 27/08/12
Progressive metal is the name of the game these days if you’re wanting to be taken seriously by the musos instead of by the kids. Or at least by the kids with any friends. Stealing Axion are as prog metal as they come. They have several instrumental play-through videos on YouTube, they’ve been signed to InsideOut Music (the Century Media offshoot home to fellow progressive master minds like The Safety Fire and Devin Townsend). The album was even mixed and mastered by TesseacT’s guitarist and producer Acle Kahney. So with full on prog credentials now established, where do Stealing Axion fit in the grand scheme of things?
Truth be told, they lie somewhere in the middle of the road. These dudes can play no doubt. But they lack the song writing nuance of Periphery, the ambitious scope of Between the Buried and Me, the ferocity of Veil of Maya, the unrelenting beauty and brutality of Opeth and the ambient sensitivity of TesseracT. The album runs along at a very sedate pace for the most part, with mid-tempo grooves and down tuned riffs all over the place. The three way vocal approach does benefit the band in that the vocal arrangements never feel forced or unnaturally arranged, a very common complaint to be found amongst bands who place instrumental prowess at the forefront. But there’s not quite enough uniqueness and conviction to sell the clean vocals and the aggressive vocals could easily be anyone from any number of bands.
The band are also fond of the quiet to loud dynamic but rarely fully utilise it to its true potential. The amount of layers within each track usually means there is always distortion behind glass like cleans or vice versa. It robs some of the more dynamic moments of the powerful tidal impact that the band were surely looking for. This again lends to the sense of sedateness throughout the disc. Occasionally this gives some of the heavier portions of the record a real sense of impending menace, but for the most part it does fall somewhat flat.
All that said, throughout this disc there are some incredibly catchy passages, whether because of their brutal groove or atmospheric beauty. And as has already been mentioned, the musicianship on display cannot be faulted. But at this stage Stealing Axion wear too many of their influences on their sleeves a touch too uncertainly to really take the fight to many of their peers or elders. But it’s early days and with time on their side they may well come to prove that taking the time is the right way to do it.
Reviewer: Calum McMillan