Next To None: A Light In The Dark

Prog-metal teens’ impressive debut.

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If you were a teenager in your first band, you’d want to show off a bit, right?

With an average age of 15, this Pennsylvania quartet set their stall out with a 10-minute piece full of dizzying time signatures, genre-hopping and instrumental muscle-flexing. Maybe they’re trying a little too hard? Well, thankfully they’re in thrall to some of the more digestible tropes of metal, so they include plenty of chunky hooks and addictive riffs amid the brain salad surgery. Max ‘Son of Mike’ Portnoy’s hyperactive, bass-drum-pummelling rhythms dominate, but his bandmates’ contributions complement them nicely. You Are Not Me has an insistent, churning riff and a vocal that flits between emo melodiousness and metalcore roaring, making for a riveting listen. Runaway has the kind of chorus that would do any pop-punk band proud, and the band have the audacity to reference Grieg’s In The Hall Of The Mountain King on Lost’s central keyboard riff. At times it sounds like they’re trying to be seven different bands in the same song, but most of the time it works. And when it doesn’t, like most teenagers, they’ve got plenty of time to reinvent themselves however they choose.

Johnny Sharp

Johnny is a regular contributor to Prog and Classic Rock magazines, both online and in print. Johnny is a highly experienced and versatile music writer whose tastes range from prog and hard rock to R’n’B, funk, folk and blues. He has written about music professionally for 30 years, surviving the Britpop wars at the NME in the 90s (under the hard-to-shake teenage nickname Johnny Cigarettes) before branching out to newspapers such as The Guardian and The Independent and magazines such as Uncut, Record Collector and, of course, Prog and Classic Rock