During Moments Part Two, the closing track of Stealing Axion’s debut, the US metallers implore us to ‘please stay awake/I can bring this all together’. It’s quite a timely wake-up call, given the album’s average opening quarter-hour. Moments kicks off with a raft of fine-but-forgettable downtuned metal tracks: Mirage Of Hope, Solar and Everything Or Nothing gallop along, supporting a Meshuggah-esque growl, Dan Forbrich and Josh DeShazo’s guitars tuned so low the strings are probably trailing at their high-tops.
Then a wonderful thing happens: Stealing Axion get a handle on their redoubtable rhythmic brawn, and find their melodic brain. Eventide is a fine piece of prog metal, with ideas and textures; Collapse marries the distorted heft with more fine detail – including a very proggy synth part.
They build up a really satisfying edifice of sound over nearly nine minutes, and it’s a trick they repeat on Sleepless. A more tuneful vocal adds character and counterpoint, while It’s Too Late Now is an epic ballad showing that what they lack in originality they make up for in the will to surprise.
An album of two halves then, but one that has its, well, moments.