Art Far Away - Verisimilitude & The Second Estate - (9.5/10)
Published on March 21, 2014
Genre:Progressive Metal / Progressive Death
If Cynic’s bold foray into progressive lounge earlier this year failed to float your progressive death metal boat, then Verisimilitude & The Second Estate, the debut album from Sweden’s Art Far Away, might just be the album to raise it from the depths.
The Cynic comparison is immediately apparent from Verisimilitude & The Second Estate’s vocoded opening track, “Cancer,” and is sustained throughout the record by Art Far Away’s spectacular and entrancing, technical, not-quite-death-metal musicianship, with the only other immediate comparison available being that of Melbourne progressive tech-grinders A Million Dead Birds Laughing which comparison is perhaps more accurate and more consistent over the album’s duration.
These particularly unique reference points may seem a bit of a stretch but Verisimilitude & The Second Estate is a particularly unique album. What Art Far Away have come up with in their debut is perhaps the Donkey Kong Country 3 of progressive death metal albums, with each song being characterized by some element wholly contained within its relative track, never cropping up again for the rest of the record’s duration. There’s the aforementioned pitch-shifted vocals of “Cancer;” the Animals As Leaders-like, djent outbursts of “Obfuscation;” “Sunday’s” black metal screeches and vocoded, female harmonies on “The Man Who Wasn’t There.”
To call Verisimilitude & The Second Estate a death metal album is rather misleading, as there’s not a whole lot of the crunch and brutality present that defines that particular genre, let alone guttural vocals. However, the chaos and technicality of Art Far Away likewise defies the classification of their native Gothenburg melodic death, nor is their sound outwardly violent to warrant the tag of “extreme” metal.
There’s also a sense of hardcore pervading Verisimilitude & The Second Estate, which is mainly evident in Adam Dahlman’s strained vocal delivery, but there’s more than a touch of The Dillinger Escape Plan in the album’s more-chaotic and downbeat moments, and the band even delve into emotional pining and fluctuating electronic drums with “Plainview,” and there’s the kind of tempo-drop/chug action on “White Man’s burden that would make Architects proud.
Art Far Away find themselves some progressive death brethren in the form of French titans Gojira, whose “Backbone” they almost sound check on “Gentleman’s Club” before launching into one of Verisimilitude & The Final Estate’s more melodic offerings. However, all this talk of genre categorization is essentially incidental, as whatever elements they employ Art Far Away manage to combine them into something astoundingly accomplished and compellingly listenable.
Whatever you want to call it, in Verisimilitude & The Final Estate, Art Far Away have delivered not just an outstanding debut but one of the best albums you’re likely to hear all year. Period. It’s progressive, it’s technical, it’s metal and it is, above all, rather magnificent and fans of any of the bands mentioned above would be doing themselves a huge favor by checking it out.