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Faro – Luminance

Faro
Luminance
by Ian Yeara at 16 November 2020, 10:01 PM

I am a huge Prog fan, whether it be Metal or Rock, any bands that are on the outer edge, pushing the envelope and trying new and different things. There’s a bit of a paradox inherent in Prog though, you know that phrase nothing new under the sun? Well that’s where the “progressive genre” becomes almost meaningless, how can a band be truly progressive if they’re just taking the formulas of 70s Prog Rock and translating it into modern times? Bands like TRANSATLANTIC, and yes even DREAM THEATER, often seem stuck in that late 90s early 2000s Prog revival when everyone started writing 20+ minute epics again and acting like it was 1972. Fortunately, I would argue that since 2010 or so we have seen an influx of bands really exploring the grey area between Post-Rock, Avant-Garde and what we typically think of as Progressive Metal, bands like KARNIVOOL, OHIO SKY and a band I recently reviewed PREHISTORIC ANIMALS. FARO is an interesting little project that I really can’t find too much about, but regardless impresses me a little more with each successive play through of this album.

It’s a good thing I was given this as a promo, otherwise the cover art would not have intrigued me enough to pick this album up, but this is one of those times where judging an album by it’s cover would have seen me missing out on a solid album. Faro exists in that alternative Metal niche occupied by bands like BLACKFIELD, PORCUPINE TREE, and A PERFECT CIRCLE, where riffs and vocal harmonies are prioritized over noodling and instrumental mastery. The guitars sound darker and crunchier than most Prog, but what really sells this sound is the vocals.

Vocalist Rocco De Simon is harmonizing with himself a perfect fourth down almost the entire album and it adds a really neat layer to the music. He never goes particularly high in his range and the low harmony gives the whole album this air of darkness and depression. There’s few vocalists I could compare this guy to, sometimes he almost sounds like Todd La Torre from QUEENSRŸCHE, sometimes he almost sounds like the late David Gold from WOODS OF YPRES, though perhaps a little less melodramatic and with the upper vocal harmony emphasized more in the mix. Really though Rocco has a pretty unique voice and I think it really works for this style of music.

One of the things that intrigues me about this style of Prog is how they approach writing hooks and choruses. The choruses on this album aren’t really separate sections, as much as they are built into the structure of the song in the form of a refrain repeated a few times throughout. What becomes more important than the hooks in that case is the emotion. The vocal melodies emphasize emotional delivery over power and range and Rocco has a perfect croon for it.

Each song takes an idea whether it’s a particular polyrhythm, a chord or a vocal melody and seems to build the song outward from that idea. One track that really stands out to me in this regard is "December". The chorus is largely indistinguishable from the verses and the song itself revolves around the vocal melody and the polyrhythms the bass and drums are laying down at times. The song almost plays out as though the first half they’re digging for the hook, developing and curating it until in the second half of the song they allow it to flourish and each iteration is slightly different and slightly more flamboyant.

Most of the album develops in a similar fashion and one slight negative of it, is that I think it gets a little too comfortable doing the same things again and again. Don’t get me wrong this is still a great album, but I’ll put it this way: if you’re not digging the album by about two or three songs in, I doubt the rest of it is really going to change your mind.

Another band I’d compare FARO to is THE OCEAN COLLECTIVE; certainly minus the more extreme passages they engage in, but especially in the softer proggy moments they very much remind me of THE OCEAN and the way they build through layering, occasionally letting everything fly for the breakdown. In a sense the band falls back on the same tricks throughout the album and even though I think the sound of the album itself is Progressive as it’s combining styles and sounds in a way you don’t hear all the time.

As I’ve gone through this, I’ve settled on a description for this sound; it’s like STEVEN WILSON meets THE OCEAN COLLECTIVE and wrote a STORM CORROSION album. Kind of like how I feel about TOOL, I find myself waiting for something crazy to happen and for the most part the tension and release are fairly tame. Essentially the music is really enjoyable and there are some great hooks along the way, but I wish they would let themselves go a little bit more you know? Go a little crazy, which is one of the things STEVEN WILSON and THE OCEAN do really well. They’ll write a slow burn, but you better believe that slow burn ends with them pulling out all the stops for the bridge and post bridge breakdown. The only song here that comes close to letting it all fly is "Down" which has the heaviest bridge on the whole album.

"Luminance" is a short and sweet album and if you like Alternative Rock and Prog then this will have something for you. However, if you find yourself wishing for a little more energy and heaviness then may I suggest you check out their first album, which was originally released in 2011 and relaunched on August 2020. It’s a little more raw in sound than this album, but it’s definitely heavier. I will certainly follow FARO’s career with interest from here on.

Songwriting: 7
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 7
Production: 7

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Pure
2. Fragment
3. December
4. Lucas
5. Tears
6. Down
7. Autumn
8. Luminance
Lineup:
Rocco De Simone – Vocals
Fabrizio Basco – Guitars
Michele Santoleri – Drums
Angelo Troiano – Guitars
Record Label: Independent
     


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