Let's be honest here, if a band is going to be an instrumental group that is completely devoid of vocals than they need to be pretty damn impressive to make up for that obviously lacking human element from the group's oeuvre. Collapsar are an entirely instrumental group that I have been drawn to checking out because of their usually eye catching artwork and record covers, but until now, have not delved into because of the dubious lack of vocals, not that this lack is a bad thing but made me a bit wary of comparing the band to other all instrumental outfits. Integers is the band's second release and contains six tracks of borderline prog-influenced metal.
Integers begins much differently than I expected and rather than the usual state or sounds that I tend to associate with instrumental music; what blasts my aural sense instead is more akin to what The Dillinger Escape Plan might have tossed at listeners before they went completely soft. That is to say that "Axiomatic Fragment" is chock full of the metal tinged, odd timing, and fret board gymnastics that characterized earlier Dillinger records like Under the Running Board and Calculating Infinity but in a greatly expanded form that is counterbalanced by long passages with greater melodic qualities. The frantic riffing of the beginning of “The Great Caldera” that plays against the increasingly lengthy outbursts of noise continues the display of fret board wizardry that many metal bands are delving into as of late. The gentle thrum of sound that signals the beginning of "Spooky Action at a Distance" gives me some hope of something different from the previous material on Integers, and it delivers with a more measured aggression rather than the dizzying guitar work that Collapsar. Easily my favorite track on the album, it has an emotional level that is absent elsewhere here and contains some rather triumphant or grand sounds even though the song does fall back on the mind numbing aerobic fret board techniques. "He's Got an Axe!" contains an excellent movement that combines some of the more relaxed timbres of "Spooky Action at a Distance" with the hyper aggressive guitar wizardry to great effect, and it is these moments that interest me in what Collapsar are doing more than anything else. "The Forever War" is an almost nineteen minute opus that closes Integers while combining many of the sonic themes and moods that the band explores throughout the album.
Collapsar is not like other instrumental bands that currently dot the musical landscape. Instead, they sound much like the metal bands that are becoming increasingly popular but with the one glaring difference of not having any vocals thus challenging the band with connecting with listeners minus the lyrical modus operandi. Integers is ultimately great background music if someone is looking for more aggressive fare than what instrumental groups normally offer. Bright spots like parts of "Spooky Action at a Distance" do come through with some attention grabbing sounds and aural movements that broaden the spectrum of sound that the band offers on the album. Otherwise there are long periods of time where the band blasts listeners with dazzling displays of technical prowess that can be absolutely mind numbing at times and lead me to let the album fall into background music. I definitely appreciate the band's affinity for science fiction literature with their song "The Forever War" possibly betraying the origins of their name since, in that novel, collapsars are utilized as a means of interstellar travel.
6.3 / 10
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