Tungsten - The Reservoir review

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Band: Tungsten
Album: The Reservoir
Release date: January 2014

01. Water Over Stone
02. Contamination
03. Atmos (Masto) Stoma
04. Night Wanders By
05. Coda
06. El Dolor
07. The Opera House
08. The Reservoir

Merging progressive metal and progressive rock is an ambitious task and a tenuous ground on which to make first impressions. Usually this endeavour results in, at the very least, some creative ideas which haven't been touched upon within either of these genres. With their debut effort Tungsten from Philadelphia find themselves positioning their music on this convergence point between rock and metal with unusual results.

The most remarkable feature about this mix is the cosy bed of synth which underlies their sound, convincingly reminding the listener of their own love for progressive rock, as well as that of the potential listener. From the outset of "Water Of Stone" I get a spacey vibe wave of Eloy, the likes of which I can't say I've heard as convincingly in music like this, which is an album too heavy to be described accurately as solely belonging to progressive rock. The guitars used are here worked to fairly lengthy progressive metal song structures and generally bear a harder edge as they bring things more tangibly into metal territories, particularly in the solos. They operate along fairly standard lines for the genre and tend to get repetitive in between those solo breaks, though they do create sufficient flow to the tunes.

There are many occasions in which the synths become subsidiary in the mix and overpowered by the bass, guitars and vocals. The latter are performed here by a versatile female voice, behind which lies a distinguishable force in the delivery. It's this force that adds significant strain not only to her own performance, but is also of detriment to the supportive instrumentation, which sounds like an interesting combination of early Camel (it reminds me of their self-titled debut in particular) and Iron Maiden. It is particularly in the album's early stages where the vocalist is, I imagine, attempting to leave her clearest impression that she seems to place too much emphasis on some vocal lines. The style of music the band is pushing for doesn't really require such a forceful vocal delivery that she touches on. However, this strength of voice does find better placement and restraint in tracks like "Atmos (Masto) Stoma".

While her style often congeals well with the guitars, it sounds uncomforting in contrast to those synths I mentioned, which occasionally opt to give an atmospheric touch to the album. The style she adopts here would often be more suited in metal where a powerful voice is generally a requirement; a voice naturally geared for higher tempo environments, such as power metal. That said the album does reach toward a more rapid pace, in which the vocals acclimatise more ably.

In terms of instrumentation the drums are particularly suited in managing the balance between the synthy sounds of prog and the heavier delivery of guitar, the cymbal crash adding something of a fizz to the mix. The production job is amiable enough in terms of it allowing for all instruments and the vocals to be heard, yet all the elements at work here just don't seem to gel in the desired manner, the vocals in particular often being placed at the forefront.

The most memorable and well written passage of the album is easily the short-and-groovy acoustic melody of "Coda" leading into the rhythmic and guitar driven playfulness of "El Dolor", which brings out most clearly the Spanish flavour that seems to permeate through much of the music. The vocals are at their best and most varied here, finding a consistency from here-on-in, and are also well controlled with the use of Spanish lyric adding to the aforementioned flavour. This track has a faintly heard and underlying synth steered ambience, like much of the album itself, which situates the sound more readily in progressive rock, out of which the guitar grants the heaviness or edge of metal. This Spanish character is something which could be focused on, with further use of the acoustic guitar to bring some emphasis to it.

As a debut The Reservoir represents this band's first venture which finds their sound, while needing further development, clearly showing promise in providing something unusual and fresh.

Have a listen to this intriguing sound on their Bandcamp

Rating breakdown
Performance: 6
Songwriting: 5
Originality: 8
Production: 6


Written on 29.01.2014 by R'Vannith enjoys music, he's hoping you do too.

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