Richard Thomson may be the vocalist for Xerath, but if you're expecting that same innovative blend of progressive metal, film music, and tech death in his new side project, you'll be sorely disappointed with The Custodian. Actually, if you were expecting any innovation at all, your expectations will be set too high for their debut, Necessary Wasted Time.
The Custodian play a decidedly bland version of progressive rock, creating music that's almost as dull as the musicians playing them. That's not an insult at the musicianship of the artists involved; that's a comment on how utterly disinterested they seem in their own music. As track after track passes by in the exact same lackadaisical, supine manner, you'll quickly notice that there's no energy or purpose present at all. Not one of the musicians plays with any force or consideration, resulting in a vacuous drone where, supposedly, actual music was intended.
What's worse, on the few occasions where the musicians care enough to actually capture the listener's attention, it becomes appallingly apparent that there is nothing worth hearing in the first place. Save for the moderately inspired Pink Floyd-esque guitar solo that closes the album, Necessary Wasted Time is a void of compositional creativity, noteworthy only for the true dearth of meaningful writing to be found. The pieces drift from one passage to another without regard for what precedes and proceeds, and tracks seem to start and end whenever the band happens to run out of steam. It's a disconnected mess of half-formed, half-imagined ideas whose combined substance barely carries enough worth for a three minute pop ballad.
Just about the only thing The Custodian have going for them is that the album is enjoyable to listen to--and even then, only with the same vapid capacity with which one enjoys other flavourless muzak. By the end of the album, you'll be banging your head against the wall for want of development or motion (and at least a headache has an effective climax satisfying dénouement). Necessary Wasted Time is a bore, and makes little to no effort to be anything but.
I personally don't care much for Xerath, but I can at least respect their dedication to worthwhile songwriting. The Custodian, however, carry no such saving grace, and this isn't an album I can recommend in good faith. To quote the band themselves, "I know nothing worse / than necessary wasted time". At least the album title was two thirds accurate.
2.0 / 10
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