Videoclip of the Month!!!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Optics - Optics (EP)

Optics - Optics (EP)

Optics is a young band that comes from Hamilton Ontario Canada, their styles are a fusion of progressive death with hardcore influences. Progressive death metal is one of those genres in metal where the term has lost its meaning or gets thrown around the place so often that not many people actually know what “true” progressive death metal is. When someone says, “hey, this band is progressive death metal” what do you initially think of? Opeth? The Contortionist? Obscura? The name has literally been thrown around to things that have certain style of atmosphere. Although I’m still trying to get my head around what exactly makes the progressive sound in death metal, I can tell you that the “progressiveness” is very evident in Optics music.

To be quite honest with you, lately I’ve been sick of the whole “progressive” thing, it gets old quickly and I don’t think it has the same impact like it used to have when I first started listening to it. I mean, yeah, there are a few bands that have withstood the test of time such as the Yellow Sign (well… that’s one) but everything else just seems stale to me. I think what Optics have done is they’ve combined a relatively stale genre of genre into something more interesting and less redundant by throwing in some hardcore elements into their music. This just adds a little bit of adventure to their music which is something that seems to be missing in action in other progressive death metal bands.

Optics isn’t just your average progressive death metal and apart from the difference of sound due to the hardcore elements in their music, it is far more complex. The song structure is quite jagged for a progressive band because usually they are nice, smooth flowing and atmospheric (although this is with the exception of most of the technical progressive death metal bands). There seems to be a lot of starting and stopping throughout the whole release, which also track back to their hardcore roots. But that’s not the interesting bit, the interesting bit is the way they have combined the song pattern of your typical hardcore band with a heavy progressive death metal feel to them. This is really evident in the way the guitars are set up, there are parts where the lead guitars lead the music with the progressive stuff and everything else in the background seems to be pretty much 100% hardcore.

Now I’ve mentioned that hardcore is a big player in Optic’s sound, so you’re probably thinking “so what if there are hardcore elements in a band’s music, I can name you over 9000 bands who mix progressive death metal with hardcore” well, I bet you can’t name bands who combine the two like Optics have done. The main reason why Optics have better sound I that they don’t go for a direct hybrid between the two genres, rather they keep the two elements separated. This means that there is no cluttering or confusion between the two genres, which in my books is a good thing. There are two distinct layers that keep Optics’s sound going, the top layer is obviously the progressive death elements which keep the sound running and helps carry it along. The bottom layer is the hardcore, now this is where I feel that the action happens. For some reason, there is a lot of hardcore “oomph” throughout this ep. The attitude of a hardcore band is definitely an influence in Optics sound. First of all, the first thing that hardcore fans come to like about hardcore (especially beatdown hardcore) is the attitude of the music, it just makes fans want to burst into song and dance (hardcore singing and hardcore dancing), and secondly, the breakdowns that are present in hardcore. Optics have pretty much covered all there is to cover when it comes to the “hardcore experience” in this release. But I think it’s their breakdowns which standout the most. They are pretty awesome if I may say so, they’re as solid of a breakdown as you will ever hear. They hit you like a fully loaded train.

*sigh* this is where the hard part of critiquing this ep is at because although they’re a small time band and they probably don’t have the money get high quality recording done, the production of this ep is absolutely horrid. First of all, although hardcore might sound better when it has that raw sound to it, “progressiveness” doesn’t. Everyone knows that progressive death is best recorded in high quality to get the full impact of the atmosphere. Now I’m not saying that the atmosphere is completely absent from Optics’s sound because it is still there, it’s just that I think their full potential is bound by the chains of poor recording quality. Another thing that has come out of not having high quality recording is that they music sounds extremely loose. There are plenty of times throughout this ep where it feels like nothing is in time, this is especially evident during the interludes but not so much in the during the melodic sections. Let me just put it this way, the music too technical (kind of) to be considered simple progressive death metal but it’s not technical enough to have those timing flaws overlooked.

Overall, I really think that Optics does have some potential from what we’ve seen in this ep. They have truly shown their song writing skills in this album there are a lot of things that listeners can enjoy from Optics such as their; gut busting breakdowns, super slick guitar solos and beautiful melodies throughout the ep. Unfortunately, the technical aspect still seems to be hidden under the covers of horrible recording which is a shame because I believe that high quality recoding will fix that. I’ve witnessed many bands put out a terrible quality demo CD and me thinking “wow, I’m never trying those guys again” and being amazed when they pull out something awesome in their next release. Bands can and do rise from the ashes when their get some professional recording done, the real question now is… will they take their music to the next step, or keep their music to the down low? I give Optics’s self titled ep a 13/20.

*Sorry, there are no sample tracks from Optics yet, comming soon*

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