Next To None - Phases album review

Prog metal ingenues Next To None continue to grow up in public

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Edging swiftly away from all notions of a “junior Dream Theater” (drummer Max Portnoy is the son of, well, you know who), these songs are heavier, weirder and, importantly, far more confident and intelligently arranged than anything on the band’s 2015 debut.

In terms of prog points, there is a fiendish amount of rhythmical complexity –much of it plainly influenced by the post-Meshuggah tech-metal scene – and a great deal of overt heaviness and aggression threaded through these songs. This results in an album that seeks to convert old-school prog metal fans to the ways of more recent titans of the genre like Between The Buried And Me and Painted In Exile. Songs like Answer Me and the sprawling, 10-minute Kek brim with strong melodies and bright (or demented) ideas, and everything is propelled along with the kind of swivel-eyed exuberance that has been punched out of most musos by the time they hit 30. The downside is that every time vocalist Thomas Cuce uses his reedy upper register, NTN sound like a generic, teenfriendly metalcore band, and no amount of polyrhythmic showboating will make that more palatable to discerning ears. Nonetheless, this is a strong second LP and the band’s potential remains vast.