Invent Animate - Heavener review
|Release date:||March 2023|
01. Absence Persistent
02. Shade Astray
04. Without A Whisper
05. False Meridian
07. Immolation Of Night
08. Purity Weeps
09. Void Surfacing
At the more atmospheric end of the progressive metalcore spectrum, Invent Animate have subtly distinguished themselves within the roster of bands that have dominated the trajectory of metalcore in the past decade; Heavener is very much a continuation of their established mission objective.
Invent Animate were a band I encountered during a period in 2017 when I was reacquainting myself with a metalcore scene I hadn’t really interacted with since the late 2000s. In the interim, the influence of djent acts such as Periphery had clearly made their mark; the verse/chorus simplicity and Gothenburg stylings of the 2000s titans such as Killswitch Engage and As I Lay Dying held less of a dominion over the scene, as bands with more progressive structures and djentish riffing such as Northlane, Erra and Make Them Suffer came to the fore. Although I appreciated the more atmospheric and ambient cues incorporated by Invent Animate on Stillworld and later Greyview, I wasn’t quite as taken with them as some of their peers; with Heavener change that?
First, for those unacquainted with the band, it’s probably fair to acknowledge that these ‘atmospheric/ambient’ elements are predominantly a background feature. With the exception of the mid-album quasi-interlude “Reverie”, which is just clean synth/guitar tones and singing, most of the soft passages occur as snippets within loud, aggressive songs otherwise; this often happens in an early verse-like passage, with all distortion temporarily pulling back for clean singing and soft tones, but this only lasts for a few seconds. Examples of this can be found in songs such as “Absence Persistent”, “Purity Weeps” and “Emberglow”, although the latter of these is something of an exception in how consistently it features more pulled-back passages with soft tremolos, as well as how its intriguing mixing adds a haziness to to the song at times. The other ‘atmospheric’ aspect of Heavener is the use of clean, ringing tones during breakdowns and other passages, similar to how Monuments have typically incorporated such tones.
First and foremost, this is djent-metalcore, which means that an assault of chunky, low-end, groovy riffs are paired with a mixture of screamed and clean sung vocals. The range of vocalist Marcus Vik is quite impressive; although the harsh vocals are mostly screams, there are occasional growlier moments, and his clean singing pitch and intensity range is varied. If I was to pick an aspect of Heavener, and Invent Animate as a whole, that has probably muted my enthusiasm for them, it is that the clean sung bits rarely have particularly satisfying hooks; the most ‘memorable’ choruses, those in “Shade Astray” and “Purity Weeps”, don’t inspire too much enthusiasm in me, and the sung passages that occur semi-regularly in songs also make little impact. Probably the most notable moment is a full-lunged, very emotionally charged moment in closing song “Elysium”; I wouldn’t mind that level of passion a bit more often.
Where Heavener makes a stronger impression is with its riffs and grooves; the faster riffs offer plenty to get stuck into, but it’s slower grooves, such as a particularly nasty one near the beginning of “False Meridian”, that serve up the best headbang material. “Immolation Of Night”, probably the heaviest song on the record, features some very dirty djenting. I also like the moments that are less dependent upon distortion; Invent Animate semi-frequently introduce passages with frantic lead guitar motifs, such as in “Without A Whisper” and “Emberglow”, and the lead guitar heroics near the end of “Elysium” are particularly cool. Another less orthodox but very rewarding section is in “Void Surfacing”; the mostly instrumental-only second half of this song is kicked off with a really sick bass-driven groove with some of those atmospheric clean tones on top, and the way these instrumental passages progress make “Void Surfacing” on of the stronger features on Heavener; it positively reminds of songs I really enjoyed on Heliocentric’s Ishmael.
One area in which Invent Animate do impress me consistently, perhaps more so than most of their peers, is in the breakdowns; these are consistently chunky and satisfying. At a time where deathcore has been giving me breakdown fatigue, I was excited each time one appeared here, particularly in the likes of “Labyrinthine” and “False Meridian” when the cleaner background tones are used. The latter of these songs has perhaps the most satisfying example; the complex rhythm of the rapid-fire chug patterns in tandem with those atmospheric tones is very tasty.
Invent Animate weren’t my favourite prog-metalcore band before now, and they won’t be after this either, but for those that enjoy riffy, djenty metalcore, there’s a lot of solid riffs to get stuck into here, and the use of lighter tones does continue to add a distinctive flavour to their sound, even if it’s not especially prevalent or dominant.
||Written on 26.03.2023 by|
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