Project Mercury is the latest output of material from two of Philadelphias underground sensations: Balboa and Rosetta. The split features original material from each band as well as a collaborative piece - much like the Harkonen and These Arms are Snakes split put out a couple of years back. Project Mercury is a dynamic adventure in music, much like that of the human spaceflights from which it takes it name.
Balboa - inspired by Rocky just maybe - starts things off with three originals. The first song, Primitive Accumulation, is the shortest of the whole album, clocking in at just less than three minutes. The song opens with a fairly mellow instrumental sequence before vocalist Peter Blooms sweet melodies enter the equation. This doesnt last long; the song quickly erupts into a technical metal frenzy with Bloom screaming relentlessly over the top of the music, and abruptly ends as quickly as it began. Kaddish continues the progressive hardcore assault. The song moves through instrumental post-rock/post-punk moments before culminating in a flurry of aggressive guitars and run-your-head-in-circles drumming, courtesy of Dave Pacifico and Drew Juergens, respectively. Balboas last contribution, Planet of Slums, is the bands heaviest cut. The song is frenetic mixture of discordant hardcore, traditional screamo, and elements of post-rock, falling someplace between Neurosis and City of Caterpillar.
Rosetta return with their first new material since 2005s landmark mega-opus The Galilean Satellites. Rosetta set course with TMA-1, a ten minute instrumental journey that is essentially one giant rise to a spectacular climax. Over the course of the song, guitarist Matt Weed weaves his brilliance with the plodding basslines of Dave Grossman and B.J. McMurties well-executed drumwork. Vocalist Mike Armine is absent on this track, but he provides numerous background effects and noise that add further ambience to the song. Clavius is equally as daunting, clocking it at over twelve minutes. Musically, the song follows very much in line with TMA-1, but additionally Armine contributes coarse yells - lyrically using metaphors of astrology, not farfetched given the title coming from mathematician and astronomer Christopher Clavius. The closing three minutes of music features some of the heaviest riffage Ive heard all year.
Finally, both Balboa and Rosetta team up for Project Mercury, a near nine-minute song, which seems to walk the fine line between the worlds of metal and post-rock, if there even exists a line anymore. The collaboration is a mixture of progressive metal and hardcore with dashes of post-rock and noise splashed together. Its hard to describe, as is best left to be witnessed.
Balboa and Rosetta both deliver the goods on Project Mercury, but I found the Rosetta tracks to be a bit more deserving of praise. I know I can listen to a full album of their music, as their previous LP impressed me greatly. Balboa, on the other hand, I feel I can only handle in small doses, which is good news for me, as they seem to be primarily involved in releasing splits and EPs.
8.0 / 10
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