Artist: The Minerva Conduct
Genre: Atmospheric Progressive Metal
Review by Tomina Vincent
The Minerva Conduct is a band I was not familiar with and I was excited to check them out. I certainly didn’t expect to be completely spellbound. This is somewhat of an Indian supergroup, featuring members of Demonic Resurrection, Albatross and Gutslit - all hugely popular Indian heavy acts. But The Minerva Conduct is infinitely different from its members’ respective projects, especially in their approach to writing. We are given a forward-thinking experimental progressive metal record that is far removed from the ordinary.
'Vile' instantly pulls me in. It's a magnificent opener. A strong groove, lush and clean production, layered so masterfully that you can hear even the slightest nuances and movements. The song moves through different sections seamlessly and the whole track is one big, beautiful journey through a spacescape. As a singer, I often get the feeling that an instrumental band would benefit from vocals, but this is not true in the case of The Minerva Conduct. The music is so vivid and emotive that everything is said with the authority and confidence of a world class band that should conquer the planet.
'Desertion' starts in a similar way, though some synth work enters here and it's a very interesting fit. The guitar work gives us constant movement, changing from djent to death metal inspired riffs. A cleaner piano section with spoken word is something you'd think can't fit in this landscape, but it does, and it makes for an unexpected and original change. What should be a few very different ideas stitched together, has been masterfully moulded into a cohesive whole that's a delight to listen to. Over 7 minutes of fantastic progressive metal. And I say progressive because there really are new ideas here, and that's what's missing in a lot of releases.
'Metanoia' is a bit heavier and more dry than the previous tracks. There is more synth work here which is wonderful. It sounds like death metal meets VNV Nation. The song weaves in and out of melodic and straight groove sections. This track features the first guitar solo on the record and bizarrely, these guys made a rock and roll sounding solo fit within their style. I'm noticing that's what they do really well - blending genres and melodies that shouldn't work together on paper.
At 3.15 minutes, 'Trip Seq' feels like an interlude for these guys. Apparently they take those seriously too. A clean section opens into an insanely groovy riff that wot leave your head for a while. Again the synth tracks take it to another world. The melodies are menacing and eerie, the kind that makes people walk with a sense of purpose in movies. This is a short, but magnificent song.
'Appetence' starts off like a classic heavy metal track, and again defies expectations with what comes next. One of the more straight forward and melodic offerings on the record. It features more of the death metal sound we hear throughout the album, but there's something new about it, it sounds modern. In some sections the backing track is almost Eurovision-like and at this point I'm at a loss as to how the hell they made this work, and then continued into a Karnivool-esque quiet section like it's no big deal. Genre jump rope at its finest.
'Exultant' is a nod to classic metal and a little more straight forward. There is a solid groove and another great solo. The synth backing is once again unexpected and adds further fullness and dimension to the song. It is a slower moving track, more spacious and contemplative. It feels like this is the only ballad on the album. It ends with a beautiful clean section reminiscent perhaps of A Perfect Circle.
'Unearth' is relentless. Again incorporating the ever-present groove and chugging guitars, but there are also electronic elements likely to be heard in industrial metal. It’s a curious combination that I can really get used to. The bass lines in this track stand out and make me want to move. We hear the band slow down towards the end, moving into a slower and cleaner section, finishing off with a great guitar solo.
The closer 'Grand Arcane' has perhaps the best intro of the whole record. The verse hits hard with a wall of guitars, continuing into an infectious bass line. The track moves into heavier territory, with a black metal influence somewhat present here. Later on, the song reminds me of Caligula’s Horse – it has that melodic progressive rock tint, while remaining slightly heavier and darker. 'Grand Arcane' slowly leads us out of the album and fades out.
After listening to this record, I’m a little lost for words. I’m inclined to call it brilliant, beautiful, and transporting, but the one thing that I liked most of all was that it was exciting. It’s been a long time since any similar releases have impacted me since the huge influx of djent inspired bands and heavier progressive acts a few years ago. While a somewhat new and curious movement, it very quickly became uniform. The Minerva Conduct don’t fit the mould. There is passion and honesty here that is so evident and abundant, that you can’t remain impartial to what you’re hearing. This is an album likely to please both metal and progressive rock fans, and a sonic journey I encourage you to take.
10 out of 10 stars.
The Minerva Conduct's Self-Titled release is out September 15th via Transcending Obscurity Records.