Tourbillon Reviews - Tradjectory
On October 15th, up and coming South London based progressive metal outfit Tradjectory released their debut album. Having seen some impressive live footage of them supporting Ravenface at the Garage at an earlier gig- one that I’d missed due to the battering my wallet took at the UK Tech Metal Fest where Id watched them sneakily jump on the bill last minute (filling in for a band that dropped out), I decided to check out their self-titled first full-length release. Having listened to it on their bandcamp page around 5 times, I can’t say I was stunned but I can say this album does pack a punch, albeit a concealed one.
The album opener, “Oceans of Revolution”, gives a nice ambient intro to slowly ease us in to what lies ahead, and as it slowly builds, we expect to hear a drop into a fairly heavy groove. Unfortunately, this drop does not hit as hard as you’d want it to. The track does pick up eventually with a nice catchy chorus with clean vocals, although the lyrics seem a bit cliché. What this track truly suffers from however is it’s length; it’s a bit too long. When the same lyrics are repeated again and again over very similar sections, it does feel like this song is being stretched out way longer than it has to.
So we’re not off to a good start, and to be honest, the story of this album- aside from the ones of invasion and an apocalyptic Armageddon-style war that I could interpret through the lyrics- is already written and contained within this opening track.
One of the most key aspects indicative of this story is the album’s momentum. As with the drop of the first track, the album does not seem to flow the way it should. Part of this is down to actual song construction. For example, despite showing obvious technical proficiency, the solos on this album, such as “Initiation Sequence” and “Solus”, seem to come out of nowhere. This lack of transition towards them means that, aside from the one anomaly of the final track “Embrace”, these solos never quite ‘fit.’
But where the problem really lies is in the track listing. Whilst musically speaking, the tracks fade quite well into each other at times, as with “Scars”, and “Wounds”, the progression of the album as a whole is not smooth. It picks up too late; “Rewired” hits you within the first 10 seconds of its full 4 minutes in the way “Before The Storm” should have and it calms down with ambient interludes in the wrong places. This seems a shame; on their own, tracks like “Rewired” and “Air” were the ones that stood out for me but in the wider context of the album, they just get in the way. Similarly, from “Rewired” onwards, things begin to pick up with “Initiation Sequence” but we are denied this pick up by “I|O Process”, taking the intensity level down again.
The second problem that “Oceans of Revolution” reveals from the outset is the overuse of repetition. Counter intuitively, the biggest culprit isn’t the longest track, “Embrace”, instead it seems to be “Wounds”. Whilst the chorus is catchy, we hear way too much of it, diluting what I’m sure was meant to be a quite powerfully emotional impact. As well as the chorus of “Wounds”, the interludes and guitar solos are also overused and they remarkably affected by this overuse. Tracks like “Air” and “Scars” have great ambience and use things like glitch effects tastefully; a fairly impressive feat as of late, but these songs are muted by the multitude of those like them. Similarly the guitar solos like the one on “Embrace” could have really impressed me if they were anything of a rare occurrence. The fact that the solos and interludes often don’t seem to fit in the first place makes them sadly ineffectual.
Lastly, and most importantly, I can’t help but really dislike the vocals. Where this album does shine in places, be it the gnarly death metal vibes of “Intro The Darkness” and “Embrace”, or the tasty groove sections dotted throughout the album, they all have really underwhelming vocals on top of them. At its worst, they feel really forced and weak, such as in “Initiation Sequence”, when we hear a lyrical passage that has a quite hardcore-esque, moany quality to it. Whilst I know I couldn’t expect to hear something as good as Nergal on “Into The Darkness”, with its Behemoth-like intro, or Karl Sanders of Nile after the track goes southwards with a very eastern/egyptian sounding guitar part, I think these vocals really do damage the credibility of this album. The clean vocals are a bit better and really help the chorus’ at times but they tend to be less frequent. That being said, I think the mix could be influencing my opinion, as the vocals do seem to be very quiet, as is the bass, which is typically buried.
All this is not to say that I completely dislike the album. There are diamonds in the dirt here, such as the really good “djenty” (for lack of a better word) grooves dotted throughout and the dense atmospheres created in tracks like “Air” and “Scars”. Unfortunately, however, they are just that: in dirt. I do see some potential in this band, and I understand that this material is now really quite old- a problem that many bands debuts in the progressive metal scene today seem to be afflicted with. I do genuinely look forward to new material and would urge you to support these guy’s if you like the music they make.