Thursday, May 24, 2012

Art by Numbers - Reticence: The Musical [REVIEW]

Art by Numbers
Album: Reticence: The Musical
Genre: Progressive Metal/Post-Hardcore

          I was quick to doubt Art by Numbers. Initially, I was skeptical in giving their debut full-length Reticence: The Musical a college try, because as far as I was concerned, they followed the same formula every other post-hardcore-turned-progressive band had trekked before them. High-pitched, fast-paced guitar? Yup. Crooning, soft vocals? Uh-huh. Dynamic melodies? You gotcha. However, after a superficial listen through, Reticence surprised me by separating itself from its faux-progressive peers and lodging itself firmly in my head.
          Yes, there are softly crooned vocals, and yes they are poured over quick, high-pitched and technical riffs laced together to make intricate melodies. However, unlike the stereotypically sooth-sang vocals which get old after a track or two, Art by Numbers’ vocalist manages (in a manner I don’t fully understand) to avoid monotony and keep the listener engaged. His belted, calamitous choruses combine catalytically with catchy, near-whispered bridges and verses to create vocal lines which get wedged deep in your head. These sickly-sweet vocal melodies are poured like honey over noodling, loopy and absurdly technical riffs to create dynamics which refuse to get old, even after repeated listens. Whether it’s the vocal-heavy big-band influenced “Best Laid Plans,” or the guitar-laden tracks “Panacea” or “Reyes,” Reticence uses it’s ability to combine vocals and guitar in consistently refreshing manners to keep the listener listening.
           Another interesting facet of the dynamo that is Reticence is the use of the heavy-soft toggle which isn’t done the same way most bands in the same vein do it. Art by Numbers don’t consistently or predictably throw in harsh vocals and stuttering breakdowns, but rather, they sneak them in at their own whim. “Regression to the Meme” exemplifies this perfectly, as it throws in a metalcore-esque breakdown with grinding harsh vocals right in your face without any warning. These vocals then take a back-seat and remain unheard until they return in a sudden ambush later in the album. Part of the extreme efficacy of this vocal styling is the juxtaposition of the heavier, more “-core” elements of the band alongside instrumental interlude tracks which disrupt the flow of the album in a manner which isn’t detrimental, but rather prevents the onset of monotony.
           So maybe a surface description of this band makes Art by Numbers just sound like a poor man’s The Human Abstract or a souped-up Emarosa-neauveau. This, however, couldn’t be farther from the truth. Reticence: The Musical is an original, intriguing venture into the blending of progressive metal and post-hardcore whose dynamic influences and structure will please the ears of fans of all genres. 

By: Connor Welsh/Eccentricism


  1. Alright dudes, I know a lot of you didn't like a review up here. HOWEVER, I was asked to do a review for this album by a couple fellow uploaders. So here it is. I'm sorry if it annoys some of you, but no one is making you read it. You're all big boys and girls and can keep on scrollin.

  2. Even though I don't like the music, I liked reading the review. More please!

  3. I love this album and it's a good review. People don't realize how much work goes into reviews. So keep up the good work my man!

  4., my friend, are awesome at reviews. Bravo good sir. Bravo!


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