It's a Progger's Paradise

Oct. 27, 2015


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Time for another journey. Digression Assassins are a progressive metal band from Sweden. The latest album, Merkaba, consists of six unique songs recorded and produced by Tom van Heesch (Rammstein) at Big Island studios. The album is to be released on vinyl in addition to digital formats. There's a lot going on here, pulling from many different styles, so it would be best to drop whatever you're doing and commit as much of your attention as possible.

Think Protest the Hero but proggier, and with a touch of Iron Maiden for good measure. And sprinkle in some Tool and mid-career Coheed & Cambria as well. Digression Assassins manages to take some of the best parts of each of these bands without ever truly sounding like any of them. The end result is a very complex, ever-changing palette of sound and atmosphere.

"The Traveler," for instance, starts out as a technical rocker, but evolves into quite a psychedelic jam filled with wah pedal. Throw in a few folkier sections with strings and flutes and you've got yourself a lengthy, but always engaging track. "Canopus" is filled to the brim with stellar drums and trippy vocals. Pounding, driving rhythms truly take this songs to great heights, complimenting the many flavors of guitar work from post-metal to rock.

More generally speaking, Digression Assassins are certainly no strangers to effects pedals. Experimentation in this area further keeps the sound fresh from moment to moment, but each effect is carefully chosen to fit the moment just right. There are some astounding builds that utilize layering and growing intensity of all instruments. the result is sometimes heavier than death metal albums I have heard this year.

In short, there is a lot to dig about Merkaba. The music has an enticing quality, not unlike the like the tantric pose on the cover art. Guitars soar, and the vocalist is no slouch either. "Cast for a Minimum Life" actually has some parts that reminded me of Mike Patton. Some great middle eastern-sounding melodies on this track as well. But more often than not, I think it's the drums that steal the show. Final conclusion: this is a hook-filled progressive delight. Pick up the digital today for the price of your choosing.