It is hard not to compare Textures’s two albums, but the important thing to remember is that the Textures seen on Polars is a separate animal entirely from the Textures shown on Drawing Circles. Case in point, I started with Drawing Circles and listened to Polars later, and my opinion of this album reflects that.
To put it bluntly, while Polars is swimming in ideas, none of them came out of the editing room polished, focused, or even alphabetized. Effectively they function as multiple bands playing parts of the same songs, with no honest integration or blending of sound. You’re either listening to a metalcore part, a clean Holdsworth part, or saxophone. I don’t want to spend more time than that discussing Polars, because I’m not here to review that particular album.
Drawing Circles shows absolute cohesion and form, in that everything flows into everything else. In fact, it’s almost impossible to listen to just a few tracks on this album without naturally getting the rest of it stuck in your head all day long. It is reminiscent of Meshuggah’s albums “I” or “Catch Thirty Three” without having the one-song mechanic sound forced; while all of the tracks have their own identities, they simply sound like they all belong on the same album.
So, why would I give such an album only four stars? I personally would have preferred somewhat more appropriate vocal work (don’t get me wrong, the new guy is leaps and bounds better than the old guy), and more blending of the atmospheric soundscaping. Textures is effectively at their best when they forget they’re metal, and focus instead on providing lush yet rich, well, textures of sound, in effect making music that sounds like an orange sunset worth headbanging to. Though, I do give them full credit for using this technique as much as they did.
All of that said, Drawing Circles still stands as an important work in the fledgling realm of progressive metal that isn’t Dream Theater and associated wankery. It demonstrates an earnest attempt at achieving perfection in form, execution, and of course art, and only narrowly misses. My timing of this review is more to highlight that they have a new album coming out in April, which this reviewer is hoping will correct these minor flaws.
Suggested listening: “Stream of Consciousness”, “Millstone”, “Surreal State of Enlightenment”