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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Album Review: The Bridal Procession - Astronomical Dimensions

The Bridal Procession are a band transformed. In three short years, they have been through a whole catalog of line-up changes which has resulted in them morphing from playing run-of-the-mill deathcore to peddling overtly complex, gothic death metal; a band with a penchant for juxtaposing aggression with melody by integrating rich orchestration and dark, apocalyptic elements into the mix.

For Astronomical Dimensions, their debut full-length, it is apparent that this Parisian quintet (including their live drummer) have managed to draw a couple of very influential moths to their flame. We have Alexander Dietz (guitarist for Heaven Shall Burn) responsible for tracking and Tim Lambesis (lead vocalist for As I Lay Dying) handling the mixing with Daniel Castleman at his own studios. No doubt, these names have prompted others like Alan Douches at West West Side and the Siege Of Amida label to get involved. The result is a pretty gobsmacking package.

At the time of writing, without the information to hand, I’m assuming it was probably the case that their go-to guy, Junior Rodriguez, was the drummer on the album but, with all the big names involved with the project, you’d love to believe that someone like Tim Lambesis stepped up. Whoever sat behind that kit is one talented individual. The oblique changes of rhythm, the multitude of different fills, the tom-rolls and, especially the rimshots (hats off to the production team who must have spent ages adjusting the levels to inject the right amount of warmth into them) are top-notch. In fact, if you listen carefully, each band member wears their impressive technical ability like a badge of honor. At times, there’s almost too much to going on at once and the sentiment of the track gets lost – the drummer’s too busy pounding out another complex fill just as the synth dribbles out another ludicrously epic lead.

“Shroud Of The End” is the perfect track to showcase their sound – a kind of death metal opera reminiscent of something Winds Of Plague or The Breathing Process might venture into. It is divided between emotional synth sweeps that climb to whining peaks and a throat-scouring attack (vocalist Steve Garner spewing forth cutting lyrics pinpointing modern societal collapse) behind a battering ram of guitars. All around this focal point orbits a proclivity to dip into the more progressive side of things. Take the four-minute instrumental title-track, oddly reminiscent of The Ocean’s recent output, or “Pillage The Scavenger” which chimes in with an Eluveitie-esque folk metal intro and trudges out, having donned Primordial’s corpsepaint, a fully-fledged war machine.

Like a volcanic mud bath, in its angrier moments, Astronomical Dimensions has enough sulphuric passion steaming from it to speak directly to you, sending shivers up your spine as it bubbles and bursts forth from the speakers. However, there’s an awful lot of overly eccentric, ephemeral gloop to wade through to get to that moment of clarity. The Bridal Procession have promise by the truckload that should be realized once they consistently manage to better integrate their theatrical page-breaks into their brutally punishing, horror story.

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