Tech metal and prog rock can be a tricky combination to approach. Together, they contain a host of intricate and complex elements that some find daunting. With that being said, the long-awaited return from French sextet, Uneven Structure, isn’t one you can simply play in the background. ‘La Partition’ demands a listener that’s engaged with no distractions.
Their first album in six years is, as the title suggests, split into three sections. Part one; ‘Alkaline Throat’, ‘Brazen Tongue’, and ‘Crystal Teeth’, offers three slices of bold, grandiose, and occasionally frantic, tech metal decorated with textured guitars and dynamic drums. While vocalist Matthieu Romarin carries things with soaring melodies and sporadic screams.
As they transition into the second part, via ‘Groomed And Resting’, they introduce a more slow-burning, atmospheric approach with Romarin’s soothing harmonies complimenting djent blasts on ‘Incube’. As they seep into ‘Succube’, Uneven Structure come into their own through it’s sultry and brooding tone, with a sinister undercurrent. Ultimately, they embrace their prog rock tendencies, proving to be compelling and complex in their delivery.
While it’s easy to think that Uneven Structure gets lost in ambience and experimentation, songs like ‘Funambule’ and ‘Your Scent’ reassure you they can still be heavy. The former thrives on Romarin’s vicious screams with Benoit Friedrich’s bass and Arnaud Verrier’s drums serving up a domineering rhythm section. While their trio of guitarist, Igor Omodei, Jérôme Colombelli and Steeves Hostin, shine on ‘Your Scent’ through a mix of sustained riffs, chugging chords and frenetic fingerplay.
Together, they serve as bookends for two of the album’s testing moments; ‘The Bait’ and ‘Our Embrace’. At seven minutes long each, they emphasise the band’s use of slow, clean openings, subtly taking you on a winding musical journey led by airy, intricacies before giving way to dense instrumentation.
‘La Partition’ hits all the right notes expected from a versatile tech-metal juggernaut like Uneven Structure. However, for the casual music fan, it might prove to be difficult for it to stand out due to its sheer density and length.
‘La Partition’ by Uneven Structure is released on 21st April on Long Branch Records.
Words by Sêan Reid (@SeanReid86)