Sifting - The Infinite Loop - (9.5/10)
Published on September 7, 2019
The Infinite Prog
Sifting is a progressive metal band based in Los Angeles, but originating from Venezuela, where it was formed by guitarist, vocalist and composer Eduardo Osuna Gil. Having moved to the U.S. and starting out fresh with a new line-up after the release of their debut, Sifting is now approaching the release of their third full-length album, “The Infinite Loop”. This is a massive behemoth of mind-shattering progressive metal that shows the band expanding their music to proportions far beyond anything they’ve done before, with two songs over 10 minutes long and a total run time of over 70 minutes. And it’s not exactly easy music so tread lightly!
The level of composition and the variety of different influences put together in this album is honestly hard to fathom. The opening track alone, “Agony”, shows high quality Dream Theater emulated progressive metal infused with samples of power metal, symphonic elements, drums that border on death metal, acoustic guitar sections with a strong spanish influence and a riff that just gave me a throwback to Metallica’s “Enter Sandman”. There were even some headbang inducing patterns resembling metalcore breakdowns. It’s all over the place! To be honest, on my first stream of this album, I had to pause after the opener to just breathe, cool down, drink a glass of water and convince my brain that what I heard actually happened! I felt completely ambushed (in the best way possible).
But once you get passed the initial shock and start digging into it, you will find pure art! When so many different influences come together, it’s bound to get hectic but these guys just have it so well under control that it always seems to make sense musically. And while it is incredibly complex, it is also filled with hooks, melodies and patterns that draw you in and keep you interested. The choruses are usually really catchy too. A key element especially on the drums and bass is the groove. It’s got that engaging dynamic that gets your head moving and maintains the song’s momentum even through slow sections, tempo changes and odd time signatures. Honestly it feels quite nerdy and weird from time to time but you really don’t have time to think of that because it’s so unpredictable and it always takes you by surprise. It is intelectually challenging just as much as it is rewarding!
You just can’t help but admire the variety. Each song has its own vibe that makes it unique, whether it’s faster and more energetic (“A Critical Affair”), a bit tuned down and simple (“To Who I Am”), or just goes through everything (“Agony”). A particular favourite of mine is “The Fifth Element”, a seven minute instrumental piece that covers just about every single ability in their arsenal of skills.
And as it often goes with progressive metal musicians, the lads in Sifting are addicted to playing difficult things. Though probably not all that relevant to the music, the ridiculous shredding speed they can achieve in guitar solos and the relentless, unforgiving drum parts have to make am impression on you. They found room to give every instrument some moments where it can just shamelessly shout out for attention. But while the guitar solos never cease to amaze you and the bass leaps into the high octaves whenever the moment seems right, I still have to give my biggest shout out to the brief appearance of blast beats which totally satisfied my death/black metal tendencies, without altering the overall very melodic tone of the music.
Courtesy of Steve Evetts (The Dilinger Escape Plan, Suicide Silence) producing the album and Jamie King (Between The Buried And Me, The Contortionist) in charge of mixing and mastering, “The Infinite Loop” benefits of top notch sound quality that allows all the intended vibes to come through. And it’s actually got a wide array of emotion coming at you as well. Many times they may adopt a more mid-tempo pace to the songs or drop the overdrive effect for a while and just let the melodies and orchestrations take you away. As the first part of the title track clearly demonstrates, they can build quite an enchanting atmosphere. Oftentimes the guitar melodies get very expressive and along with the orchestration, they can create a cinematic soundscape, sometimes even getting dramatic or adventurous! And they found a great way of balancing heaviness with melody and groove to instantly hook the listener. The borders between heavy and soft, fast and slow, energetic and relaxing can sometimes become vague, allowing for smooth transitions between different moments in a song. However they can also change the mood in a blink of an eye if they see fit. And it can also just feel like simple, honest fun. See the main riff in “What if (Dichtonomy)” to get bouncy. I can actually see a crowd jumping along to that song and it fits so well! The weakest link in this album is probably the vocal performance. Don’t get me wrong, it’s actually quite good but just a little weird and compared to everything else on the album, it is a bit underwhelming. Eduardo definitely proves himself as a guitarist better than a vocalist. What came as a nice surprise though, was the screaming in “Stop Calling me Liberty” and “Emotionless Shells” that certainly gave an unexpected twist!
To top off the album, there’s an epic guest keyboard solo from the one and only Derek Sherinian on “Ghost of a Lie”. When I get to the end of it though, I’ve had a great run but honestly, I’m a little exhausted. It’s 70 minutes of very complex music and it did have me questioning how much is too much. But hey, you don’t have to stream it all at once! It’s not one of those albums that have to be listened to in full in order to make sense. While it does flow nicely as a whole, each song taken on its own doesn’t feel in any way like a chunk ripped out of a bigger piece. And I’m still feeling like there’s a lot of it that escaped my filter and each new listen uncovers something new that I had missed previously. Bottom line: It’s not for the faint-hearted but it’s totally worth the effort!