It takes a lot of chutzpah to have a double-disc debut. That doesn't seem to faze French/Swedish band Uneven Structure, as proven by their debut release on Basick records, the 90-minute opus Februus.
The first disc is one 55 minute unbroken suite. It takes a lot of cues from the thick, layered ambiance of bands like Dirge and the deep-seated spaciness of Junius, resulting in one of the more emotionally raw performances in the genre. Unfortunately, it's not terribly original from a compositional standpoint--I could swear I've heard some of these riffs before in TesseracT songs, and it's hard not to hear Vildhjarta in some of their cleaner riffs. That being said, Uneven Structure have still created an album that manages to stand out amongst the chaff of the genre. It's incredibly difficult not to get your groove on when they break out their inescapable Meshuggah-like grooves, like on the tracks "Awaken" or "Frost". And when the band really hits their stride, they manage to produce some amazingly cathartic moments--"Finale" is absolutely breathtaking in its frosty beauty, and "Plenitude" features some of the rawest Gojira-esque brutality I've heard in a long while.
One thing readily noticeable about the first disc are the frequent ambient breaks. Uneven Structure are very forward about promoting both aspects of their sound (much like Opeth), and as such, the second disc consists solely of three extended ambient tracks. This half of the album was actually much more interesting to me than the first half. Though I don't listen to enough of the genre to consider myself a worthy judge of it, I do enjoy purely ambient music on occasion. The icy overtones that pepper the first half of the album actually stand up rather superbly on their own. "Winds from Untold Memories", for example, is every bit as chilling and evocative as its title implies. Though when I first checked out the album I was expecting three epic-length slices of math metal, I was actually quite happily surprised with these tracks.
Though I think the second half is a few steps ahead of the first in terms of quality, Februus is nonetheless a surprisingly solid debut. It is clear Uneven Structure have matured since their first EP 8, and I can only hope that they continue to grow in the direction that this album hints at. It's not a classic, but Uneven Structure have proven that they are a cut above their peers.
7.5 / 10
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Posted Jan. 24, 2012, 12:26 a.m.
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