Native Construct: Quiet World

Outrageously imaginative debut from the Berklee newcomers.

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Once, the term ‘progressive metal’ nearly always referred to either (a) Dream Theater or (b) bands that sound like Dream Theater.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that particular genre definition, of course, but the ongoing proliferation of bands that take a markedly different approach to exploratory heaviness has arguably rescued prog metal from the law of diminishing creative returns.

Audacious, wildly imaginative and unencumbered by the rulebook, Native Construct’s debut album contains plenty of familiar tropes to keep more traditionally-minded prog metal fans happy. But it also suggests that this band have gleefully embraced everything that the modern scene has to offer, from the scattershot arrangements and mischievous pomp of Haken through to the off-kilter extremity of Between The Buried And Me. Not to mention many other quirky elements that promise to make this young band a major force over the next few years.

An album assembled from gloriously executed songs.

From the watery, quasi-ambient breakdown midway through The Spark Of The Archon to the jarring bursts of extreme metal intensity that pour petrol on Passage’s gently charming melodic embers, Quiet World is a fearless affair and a neat encapsulation of the way prog metal must surely evolve and expand in the face of iPod shuffle culture.

Meanwhile, away from needlessly nerdy analysis, Quiet World is also an album assembled from gloriously executed songs. Not for Native Construct the endless virtuoso showmanship of their spiritual elders: instead, these prodigious Berklee College Of Music students exhibit an intuitive grasp of the difference between self-indulgence and the maximisation of musical assets. The dynamic jumps and interwoven melodies of Come Hell Or High Water offer a strong example of how the band are using instinct to dictate how best to exploit each individual idea and, crucially, how to rein in their more excessive urges.

There is enough metallic aggression and unpredictability here to draw in fans of Devin Townsend and Periphery, but Native Construct never forget to include exquisite vocal refrains and lush harmonies, as on the subtly jazz-tinged Your Familiar Face. And, yes, Quiet World is a concept album; a skewed love story wherein the main protagonist conjures a fantasy world where his own flaws are no longer a barrier to happiness and then battles to protect the beauty of his imagined reality. It’s a convincing and endearing tale, underpinned by some truly exciting and brave music, and performed with the unstoppable brio of wide-eyed ingenues with a bright and limitless future ahead of them.

Dom Lawson

Dom Lawson has been writing for Metal Hammer and Prog for over 14 years and is extremely fond of heavy metal, progressive rock, coffee and snooker. He also contributes to The Guardian, Classic Rock, Bravewords and Blabbermouth and has previously written for Kerrang! magazine in the mid-2000s.