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Redshift – Cataclysm

by Santiago Puyol at 09 July 2019, 6:28 PM

Progressive Metal albums can be dense, but they can also be fun, sometimes being both at the same time. For the most part, "Cataclysm" is both, and REDSHIFT impresses with their debut album. Citing RUSH among their influences, this British band is curiously also a trio. DREAM THEATER and BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME appear as other major influences, yet in some moments the more REDSHIFT resemble them, the more "Cataclysm" starts to feel more difficult than enjoyable.

The aptly titled "Overture" is a great instrumental album opener. Starting with a fade-in, it puts the listener attentive to what is to come next and introduces the sound of "Cataclysm" straight out. The combination of synthesizers and guitars gives it a very science fiction sound. The arrangement is complex and busy, with shifting time signatures, but the multiple sections flow with relative ease. About three minutes into it, the band sets in an exquisite groove, with a bass line where Liam Fear channels Chris Squire or Geedy Lee. Things transition smoothly into "Invasion", the first of the many upwards of nine-minute songs here. "Invasion" has a very circus-like sound beneath the layers of heavy riffs and harsh vocals. Complex and polished guitar and synth solos decorate this epic song. It fluctuates between diverse rhythms with a solid structure that always feels coherent.

The first erratic change occurs in the abrupt transition between "Invasion" and "Call to Arms". Both songs have a powerful and memorable sound, but the transition between them is a bit sloppy. After the chaotic beginning of "Call to Arms", the song moves to a more ballad sound, culminating in an emotional guitar solo by Joshua Boniface. Halfway through, this solo becomes a more technical and demanding one, while the music becomes fast-paced and groovier. Everything drops for a piano-led instrumental interlude. "Promise" feels simpler in comparison, but it is necessary as a breather after the density of all the songs in the first half of the album. The second half of the song adopts a more mysterious and dark sound, with synthesizers, ambience and bells.
The track ends up flowing into the heaviest, most aggressive song on the album, "Fire, Smoke and Thunder". It is one of the songs most reminiscent of BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME here, but REDSHIFT opts for the aggressiveness of the American Prog quintet instead of their extravagant technique. Still a challenging mini-epic, but it does not sacrifice memorability for complexity. A perfect example of this is the groovy 11/8 section near its end.

The last two songs on the album are also the longest, with "May Fate Rest Upon You" lasting more than 14 minutes and "The Last Stand" exceeding 18 and a half. This is where the eccentricities of REDSHIFT and their influences closest to Prog Metal and Technical Metal start working against them. There are many interesting ideas in "May Fate Rest Upon You", like the synthesizers that seem to come out of the “Halloween” soundtrack that appear at the beginning and have a reprise around the 12-minute mark. Or the long ballad-like section in the middle, with beautiful piano playing, a great build-up from the drums and guitar melodies that evoke OPETH. To a certain extent, it is very reminiscent of "The Proverbial Bellow" by BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME, but it needs to refine the transitions so the changes feel more natural.

The closer "The Last Stand" is even more titanic. Occupying almost a third of the album's total length, it feels too abrupt, as if parts of different songs had been assembled into one without having much clarity as to where it is all going. Still, there are quite a few memorable sections in here. Particularly noteworthy is the long instrumental intro, almost two minutes long, with a sound similar to PORCUPINE TREE, and a warm RUSH-inspired bassline. In addition, the synth reprise of "Promise" that acts as a coda is brilliant final moment. "Cataclysm" is an album that demonstrates REDSHIFT's talent and ambition. With better focus, allowing themselves to remove unnecessary stuff in their songwriting and smoothing transitions between different sections of their songs, results could be more successful. The production is very good in general, but vocals being mix too low does not help the band either. Following the album's concepts is difficult when you cannot hear the singer well enough.

As a debut album, it's more than solid. It remains to wait and see what comes next from REDSHIFT.

Songwriting: 7
Originality: 7
Memorability: 6
Production: 8

3 Star Rating

1. Overture (Something in the Sky)
2. Invasion
3. Call to Arms
4. Promises
5. Fire, Smoke and Thunder
6. May Fate Rest Upon You
7. The Last Stand
Liam Fear – Bass, Keyboards & Vocals
Joshua Boniface – Guitar
Jack Camp – Drums
Record Label: Independent


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Edited 27 November 2022

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