Textures – Dualism

Textures

Dualism
Nuclear Blast

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When Textures first emerged in 2004 with their slightly more melodic take on Meshuggah mind-mangling technical metal, it’s taken the world at large a little while to come round to them. Efforts like ‘Drawing Circles’ and ‘Silhouettes’ deserved wider attention – the mixture of technical riffs, beats and ambience was certainly a winner and Textures showed they could pull it off with ease. Since releasing ‘Silhouettes’, a slew of (progressive) technical metal has emerged, each claiming to be original by going under a name derived from an apparent guitar sound.
That claim I refute on two grounds:
1. They wouldn’t exist without Meshuggah and, to a lesser extent, bands like Textures;
2. It’s not even a word! Hence it shall not be named here, and simply known as what it is: technical metal.

But on a more serious note, this is the first album from the Dutch sextet since the departure of Eric Kalsbeek, replaced by former Cilice singer Daniel de Jongh. The first thing you’ll notice about de Jongh is what an impressive set of pipes he has, arguably possessing a greater range than Kalsbeek, and it would appear that Textures have chosen to emphasise this fact on album number four, ‘Dualism’, as now a whole new world of guitar nerds suddenly looks to them as a major player within their scene – praise they struggled to attain on their first three records, despite great reviews.
There are numerous positives to take from ‘Dualism’, as there’s no shortage of cracking riffs and off-kilter beats and melodies. The opener ‘Arms of the Sea’ has plenty of jaw-rattling action just before de Jongh’s roar is introduced, his vocal prowess becoming apparent during the course of the song. His voice is tailor made for the single ‘Reaching Home’, a much more straightforward, melodic numbers, relying less on polyrhythmic worship and more on creating a potential anthem.
de Jongh’s vocals continue to flex on ‘Consonant Hemispheres’, which slowly builds up into a cracking midsection flexing de Jongh’s vocals with a fantastic spacey line, eventually crashing into a tasty tech mosh. They pair the vocals and riffs well on numerous occasions, notably on ‘Stoic Resignation’, with the closing ‘Bring it all down’ refrain from de Jongh and guitarist Jochem Jacobs. ‘Burning The Midnight Oil’ is another corker, an instrumental track and another slow burner, again building into another kick ass riff, running along the fretboard almost in sync with Stef Broks’ groovy beat. And you know you’re onto a winner when songs like ‘Sketches from a Motionless Statue’ sound as huge as they do, Broks like a man possessed as he throws out numerous drum patterns across the duration of the closer.
The major problem with this album ironically lies within de Jongh’s vocals and Textures’ apparent emphasis on them. The mix prioritises them quite highly and at times it seems to dominate proceedings. Yes, he’s got a damn fine voice – but at times you just want to hear the riff and at times it’s washed out by soaring melody. Upon repeated listening this becomes more and more of an issue, and sometimes you would rather be jarred by the rhythm section than hear de Jongh reach his apex yet again.
It’s that for me that prevents ‘Dualism’ from being among the very best albums this year, as well as Textures’ new found sense of balancing time signatures and more straightforward sections between one another, all of which might need time to get used to. It’s still streets ahead of the chasing pack though, and is a much welcome return from six of Holland’s finest technicians.
Peter Clegg

 

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