“behind closed doors is an instrumental trio from the Netherlands, Germany and Sweden. Their amalgam of guitars, bass and drums, at times enriched with synths and a classical string quartet, creates a unique sonic image that embraces ferocious heaviness as well as delicate tenderness.”
Since my teens I’ve been a bit of a metal head, at my most aggressive and frustrated that was the music that spoke to me the most. Over the years I’ve been a fan of straight-up metal bands, symphonic metal artists and prog metal groups. So I came to this album ready to embrace my musical roots, even though these days I’m more likely to be listening to heavier music in the gym than I am joining the mosh pit.
I also listen to quite a lot of instrumental music, from the traditional prog of Focus to the guitar hero noodling of Kirk Hammett’s solo records, from the post-rock sounds of And So I Watch You From Afar, or my favourite movie and game soundtracks. I don’t need to have vocals to be a fan of tracks (I won’t say songs as I’ve had that debate with people online before) and I’m partial to some metal, so this sounds like just my kind of record. And in part it is, but not across the whole running time.
The biggest drawback with this album is that on the weaker tracks it feels like it’s crying out for vocals, which isn’t something I ever think when listening to bands without a singer. It’s a bit like when you listen to the instrumental versions of Haken tracks, but instead of singing their lyrics in your head, you’re almost making up your own vocals or at least melody lines (album closer in all but name, I’m looking at you). While that’s quite good fun, it isn’t really what I’m looking for from an instrumental record.
The musicianship on show is excellent and there are moments on this album that are really impressive, despite my initial reservations. When it does click, when all the components create something greater than the sum of their parts, then it really works. There’s a run of three tracks in the middle of the album that really resonated with me, and had enough to them that meant they didn’t suffer from a lack of vocals. The third track, the essence of doubt, is a real highlight, the guitar playing on it alone is immense. And the bass playing is really strong on black pyramid. In fact, the rhythm section on that track is extremely powerful and the use of texture and shifting sections makes it one of the best things on the record. per aspera ad astral but why and what for has the swagger of a horror movie villain and it is by far the most cinematic track here. It’s more like I had expected from the record and uses the string section to add tension and tranquillity in equal measure. There’s a beautifully crafted juxtaposition between the more math rock-based guitar sounds and the more orchestral feel of the strings.
This album is almost there. It’s one goal short of a hat-trick. It’s like being given a delicious starter but following it up with an undercooked main course. There was so much potential in this collection of tracks, but it left me wanting a bit more. I was waiting for the heaviness to be turned up to eleven. I was waiting for the lighter moments to be more heart-wrenching. I was waiting for a track with a slightly different dynamic, something a bit more epic, maybe to avoid things blending into one another. For me, that is what could have taken this album from good to great. I certainly enjoyed caged in helices and I’m keen to hear more of the trio’s work in the future. Maybe if they could bottle what worked so well on the middle few tracks and expand that out, they’d have quite a breakthrough record on their hands.
If I could give the multi-national trio that make up behind closed doors some advice, it would be to truly embrace ferocious heaviness, to really lean into delicate tenderness, as the blurb promised. With more extreme moves in both directions, I think they are capable of something special. Something that would make this lapsed metalhead instrumental music fan very happy indeed.
01. the anti will (8:04)
02. kaleidoscope antlers (5:59)
03. the essence of doubt (6:23)
04. black pyramid (10:34)
05. per aspera ad astral but why and what for (9:21)
06. ubiquitous (2:14)
07. in all but name (5:50)
Total Time – 48:28
Fred Jacobsson – Bass, Synthesisers
Christoph Teuschel – Guitars
Yuma Can Eekelen – Drums
Oene van Geel – Viola
Anne Tangberg – Cello
Ben Mathot – Violin
Record Label: Independent
Country of Origin: International
Date of Release: 28th October 2022