I can probably count on one hand the amount of records that I have reviewed marked ‘Prog rock/metal’ but I’m always up for a challenge, so what the hell.
Hailing from Stoke on Trent Jesse’s Divide are Simon Ward (Vocals, guitar) Nick Cotton (Bass) and Rob Barnes (Drums). Metadome is the band’s debut EP and for me personally it represented a voyage into the unknown as until I opened their email I had never heard a note of their music. That voyage however was one full of intrigue; crashing drums, soaring guitars and gritty basslines. Welcome to the Metadome.
The EP surges into life with the big imposing riffs of City, a feature which I soon discovered was not confined to just this track. The guitar solo which stars in the final third of the song is probably the highlight in what is overall an ‘ok’ opener. Metadome is definitely a record which improves as it goes on, but I will get to that in more detail shortly.
I only have 2 real issues with this EP and they can both be found in City and the track which follows it, Freedom. Something about the production feels off, for want of a better word. Generally speaking when songs are recorded the instrumental parts are done first and then the vocals are sung and recorded over the top, but the polished result sounds like it could have all been played together in one go, except here it doesn’t. For large parts of the record the vocals and the instrumental sound like two different tracks which just happen to be playing at the same time. It doesn’t sound natural and just doesn’t feel right.
The only other negative I’ve got is that some of the long, extended parts of the vocal in the choruses on City and Freedom sound like Ward is overreaching, and it sounds forced. That being said there are plenty of positives to be found which balance out the above. For starters the bass intro which opens Freedom is great and the Deep Purple flavour which runs through the veins of its main riff is a sight to behold.
However, it is on the following track K894 where Metadome really turns the corner. The opening riff sounds like impending doom and when the pace quickens and the band crack through the gears it feels like the trio have really found their stride. Short, sharp jabs of electric guitar punctuate what is a runaway train of a track in the best way possible. The solo towers above the rest of the song in fine style as the band nail what I think they set out to achieve.
Kalma is effectively a palate cleanser, and offers a little rest-bite between monster riffs. It’s only 2 minutes long and while you wouldn’t necessarily miss it if it wasn’t there it does work nicely as an interlude. It’s not long though until the riffs roar back in your face as Medusa hits you straight between the eyes. This is my favourite track on display by a distance; the pace is relentless from the onset which means that the song feels more focussed and doesn’t have chance to just wander around and enjoy the scenery. Once again the guitar scorches and screams through the track in terrific (No ‘Arry) fashion. This penultimate effort is bang on the money.
Closer Idolise is more of a ‘straight hard rock’ affair and is a great way to round out the record. The short bursts of bass launching to the forefront work well, and the track is very solid stuff.
Metadome as a whole is not without its issues (Issues I’ve already explained in detail so won’t do again) but there is also plenty of great stuff here too. I’m not the biggest ‘Prog’ fan in the world but I think that despite their ‘proggy’ leanings the songs are on the whole well focused and flow really well. After the first couple of tracks the band certainly hit their stride well and I’m a big fan of a lot of the guitar solos.
Overall i’d say that if you’re a Prog fan then this record is definitely worth a listen, however, I do feel that the production doesn’t do the songs justice. To coin a cliché it’s a bit of a mixed bag. (Sorry about that) But it did remind me of one pearl of wisdom which I thought I’d leave you on.
“You can’t walk forwards with one foot stuck in the past.” (Idolise)
Metadome is out now and can be found here.