So many prog metal bands have the capacity to record stunning technical performances, and yet so many of them merely mimic others instead of forging their own direction.
Mercifully, Shardborne aren’t another derivative act determined to waste their talent – their debut album, Living Bridges, contains a surprising level of imagination and musical dexterity. Perhaps this shouldn’t come as such a revelation – their 2011 EP Aeonian Sequence was similarly ambitious, but this full-lengther is far more polished and displays a real sense of maturity. Naturally, there will be those who dismiss Shardborne simply because of the lack of vocals, and there’s an argument that tracks such as Room Within A View and the title tune would benefit from a singer’s presence and guidance. Such quibbles aside, the band are adept at retaining the listener’s attention by blending the more obvious metal riffing with melodic, soaring solos, most notably during opener Not That Axis and Mind The Gap. There’s also a masterful, mellow foray on Moving Magnetic North, which proves they’re anything but predictable. It’s strong stuff as it is, but they’re a vocalist away from making a major breakthrough.