(NCS contributor Austin Weber reviews the new album by Reflections from Minnesota.)
For me the best way to find good djent in a sea of boredom is to apply a four-fold set of criteria. Most important is to find the bands who are interesting songwriters, then look for the most unique grooves/groove patterns, followed by interesting and creative lead guitar-work, and lastly search for the bands who bring in outside influences and plenty of tempo changes to break up the mid-paced chugging. The new album Exi(s)t by Reflections satisfies all four of those criteria, and then some.
“Exit” starts off the album and lulls you into believing it’s merely an opening instrumental, until a terrifying wall of dissonant heaviness emerges in a way that’s reminiscent of The Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza. In fact, a liberal dose of squeals, taps, and noisiness that reflect a strong Danza influence pop up and flavor many parts of Exi(s)t. By incorporating such touches, Reflections have found a sub-niche within djent to explore, and the effect is to grace their music with a palpable ferocity that often escalates into sheer hateful peaks.
The following two tracks, “Delirium” and “Vain Words From An Empty Mind”, further expand upon this new influence in their music, with monstrously terrifying results. While “Bridges” also features more Danza-influenced parts, it breaks up the chugging mood with a first half chopped up into faster tempo sections. Finally, “My Cancer” rounds out the biggest chunk of the album supported by Josh Travis-inspired madness, though similar ideas are woven into other tracks as well.
Another facet of the band’s sound, the melodic and atmospheric side, pops up on the next few tracks, including “Lost Pages”, “Candle”, and “This House”. Of special note, the gracefully contemplative guitar-work and female singing on the second half of “Lost Pages” is very emotive and comes across as artistically honest instead of contrived.
The album crawls toward an end on a strong note with “Stories Through Storms”, which comfortably combines the many facets of Reflection’s sound into one outstanding track, and then comes to a close in mechanical writhing fashion on “Exist”.
Exi(s)t is a big step up from Reflections’ promising but not yet diverse enough debut, The Fantasy Effect. Sonically, Reflections have matured into a band capable of giving us a very nasty, massive-sounding assault of heaviness, and yet the undercurrents of sadness and beauty that find their way into the music counterbalance the aggression nicely. The end result is both catchy and calming, a byproduct of Reflections writing in a more sophisticated format then most of their peers. With Exi(s)t, Reflections have just climbed up from the pile into elite status.
Exi(s)t is out today through eOne Entertainment. Stream the album below the links.