Uneven Structure - La Partition

Uneven Structure – La Partition

Uneven Structure’s long-teased second full-length, La Partition, is an immersive, submersive experience that expands on the excellent Februus and shines as a beacon of truly ambitious, exciting and successful progressive metal.

The first thing to talk about is the scope of this album. It’s relatively long, yes, but more importantly it’s thorough and organically cohesive. It breaks up into three large sections, separated by the two interludes (Groomed and Resting and Greeted and Dining) – but the gaps between songs are all fluid, and the album plays like a single hour-long piece. This alone is cause for excitement for me – there isn’t just one way to write a great progressive metal album, but if there were, this is it. It takes you on a journey, if you let it.

Not all long albums succeed, of course, but La Partition decidedly does. For one thing, there is no filler – with a couple of minutes of exception, the album is end to end intricate riffs and powerful vocal lines. There’s nothing wrong with interludes, quiet and ambient sections, of course, but there’s a particular beauty in complex, dense, long metal albums. Add this album to the lineage starting with Master of Puppets and continuing through Catch-33, Colors and most recently Vektor’s Terminal Redux, albums that might not have much in common sonically but are all dense with great riffs, albums that contain more great riffs than most bands write in their entire careers.

Structure is the other key to making a long concept album work and, as the band’s name suggests, they have a keen interest in it. This means that there are long, gradual ebbs and flows over the course of each song and larger ones over the course of the whole album. There are not large, overt reprises, but there are several subtle echoes and foreshadowings, such as the echo 5 minutes into Brazen Tongue of the excellent falling vocal line that opens the album, and the faint memory at 3:38 of Our Embrace of the opening piano sounds.

The sounds like this are highly detailed and integral to the success of the album. The whole thing exists in a very well-defined, dynamic and atmospheric sound world. Perhaps the most characteristic sound for the band is the impossibly long reverb decay and stretched guitar sounds that saturate the recordings and give a huge and slow-moving sense of continuity to the whole album, but there are excellent sonic choices at every moment – the high organ-like sheets of sound throughout Succube, the overload of chopped up and reversed fragments in Groomed and Resting that opens into Incube, the indefinable delicate machine/rain sounds of Greeted and Dining, and the way that the deep reverb permeates Our Embrace are all great examples. Combined with the nicely audible bass, the dark and constantly shifting guitar tones and the very articulate drums, the album fills out a unique and compelling place, dark and dynamic, slow and full despite much surface level activity.

Not that the surface activity – the riffs, the melodies, the rhythms – is anything inconsequential. The band has a deep sense of groove that complements the soundscape, but they also have some seriously slippery surface rhythms, which is a constant joy for me. The vocal melodies are also really good – see again the way the first vocal notes of the album inherit and defer the tension of the buildup of Alkaline Throat, and the trajectory of the vocals throughout the beginning of Incube with all their climbing and sliding back down.

If I were reading a review of an album in this vein, I would be sceptical. Djent-like? Clean vocals? Isn’t that a recipe that’s been disappointing too often? However, this album transcends the overly slick and accessible pop vocals and palm muting combination that often gets called djent. It has real substance, real power without cliches. See the absolutely monstrous twin drops at 1:27 and 2:49 of Funambule, the transition into and beginning of Your Scent, and the huge layered riff at the beginning of Our Embrace.

I’ve listened to it several times a day since getting an advance copy and am still digging into the layers – I have no doubt that this will make year end lists for me and many others. Released today (April 21st), pick it up and plunge into a darkly enchanting world. Then pick up Februus and 8 too if you haven’t already.

01. Alkaline Throat (4:31)
02. Brazen Tongue (6:03)
03. Crystal Teeth (3:41)
04. Groomed and Resting (0:40)
05. Incube (7:32)
06. Succube (5:30)
07. Funambule (5:18)
08. Greeted and Dining (1:45)
09. The Bait (7:53)
10. Our Embrace (7:32)
11. Your Scent (6:04)

Total Time – 59:29

Igor Omodei – Guitar
Jérôme Colombelli – Guitar
Benoit Friedrich – Bass
Matthieu Romarin – Vocals
Arnaud Verrier – Drums
Steeves Hostin – Guitar

Record Label: Basick Records
Country of Origin: France
Date of Release: 21st April 2017

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