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Planepacked – Transactinides

by Oil Gonzalez at 02 May 2022, 7:12 AM

Progression. Innovation. Evolution. Three things that seem to be paramount in today’s modern society, whether it’s in the technological or musical world. PLANEPACKED is the brain child of Jessica Kagan, who describes the solo project as ‘extreme metal with lots of keyboards and synthesizers’ on the band’s Bandcamp page. After listening to “Transactinides”, I honestly think this is an undersell as there’s so much more to offer in this solo project.

The album opens with “Azure”. I can definitely see the extreme metal elements, with some filthy mid-range metal growls. Combine that with some delightful operatic soprano vocals, and we have an outstanding musical hybrid. I noticed what seemed to be a beauty and the beast style call and response between the two. I for one would love to see this unfold in a live setting. Jessica has definitely demonstrated that innovation here, with some very interesting synth and electronic elements.

The surge continues and we’re now into song 2, “Behind The Bit Mask”. Again, I can certainly appreciate the creativity and electronic elements. However, where have the vocals gone? It seems a little unusual for me to have both vocal styles be so prominent in the opening song, then to be whisked away so suddenly. However, both the death metal vocals and operatics return in “Dark Pact”. How glad I am! With the same beauty and beast style duet over the top of an electronic track, which sounds like it should be on an early 90s video game, this is definitely offering something different. Production wise, I did notice the drums. For me, they have seemed to lack something. That reverberating full larger than life sound. It’s likely that they were programmed as opposed to being recorded acoustically. Which I can understand it being a more convenient option. Still, nothing really replaces that raw feeling of a real drum kit.

 The album’s title track “Transactinides” kicks in. Again, I wonder where the vocals have disappeared to. For me, that was the glue holding everything together and giving the music structure. Without this key ingredient, it just seems to be a miss-mash of electronic ideas and samples. Like a pendulum swing, I’m definitely invested in the album again when “The Demon Core” plays, along with some nasty demonic death metal vocals. That’s when I can really get behind the band’s description of being extreme metal mixed with electronic elements.

Things slow right down for “Red Star Succubus”, and this was a welcome addition. It seems like the composition has taken a less is more approach, and allowing ideas to progress slowly. This was much needed and a stronger showing. As opposed to what could be described a frantic mix of ideas. I don’t even mind that this is an instrumental. It definitely works without vocals. I an say very much the same thing for “Red Shock Agent”, when there’s clearly more of a song structure and progression here, with ideas being introduced slowly and more carefully. I’m glad to hear the return of the soprano in “Heliotaxis”. Maybe this is a deliberate ploy to keep the listener guessing.

I think this sums up the album for me really. There is a lot of variety and experimentation. It definitely keeps you guessing. Sometimes that comes with risks. Experimentation is to be admired, but sometimes it may be better to be more cautious and use more traditional time tested methods in compositions.

Songwriting: 6
Musicianship: 6
Memorability: 10
Production: 6

3 Star Rating

1. Azure
2. Behind The Bit Mask
3. Dark Pact
4. Transactinides
5. The Demon Core
6. Red Star Succubus
7. Red Shock Agent
8. Morphological Freedom
9. Heliotaxis
10. Ascendancy
Jessica Kagan – All Instruments
Moss girl – Harsh Vocals
Record Label: Independent


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