Somewhere between the rhythmic exercises of Meshuggah, the atmospheric melodies of Devin Townsend, the Cynic worship of bands like Coprofago and Alarum, and the breakdown-filled metalcore of… well… some above average metalcore band, lies Textures. That might sound awkward on paper, but the six guys who make up this band have managed to come up with a final product that’s technically accomplished, melodious, listenable, and surprisingly professional-sounding. It’s like an agreeable conglomerate of progressive rock and metal/hardcore.
Musically, there’s quite a bit going on here. Guitarists Jochem Jacobs and Bart Hennephof offer equal parts start-stop Meshuggah-esque staccato riffing and dense major key chord progressions. The guitars play with, off, and against each other as dynamics shift back and forth, with a particularly nice effect frequently coming in to play as one guitar provides a driving rhythmic backbone while the other soars overhead with celestial arpeggios that give a striking sense of atmosphere to an otherwise fierce aural assault. Speaking of atmosphere, the music owes a lot of that to keyboardist Richard Rietdijk, who augments the guitars with ambient, unobtrusive passages that give a welcome sense of depth to the music (notable mention is the track “Upwards”, which gives off a peculiar sensation that’s mostly true to the track title). Typical guitar leads are few, but there are some liquidy Holdsworth-esque legato lines present throughout the last two tracks, “Touching the Absolute” and “Surreal State of Enlightenment”.
The vocals are a vast improvement over the highly annoying squealing rat that was present on their debut album. The new guy, Eric Kalsbeek, is quite talented. Much of the singing is delivered in a mostly standard low-pitched hardcore yell, but he occasionally treads into faux growling territory that’s actually not bad at all, and also performs a good amount of clean, melodic vocals. He’s very listenable, whatever he’s doing. On “Illumination” he actually sounds sort of like a crooning Mike Patton.
The rhythm section is reasonably intense. Bassist Dennis Aarts does his job without much in the form of showboating, but drummer Stef Broks is a limber beast behind the kit. He plays with immense power and precision, but at the same time manages to avoid falling into the mechanized, regimented trappings of many drummers within the technical metal domain. Instead, his style has a free-flowing and organic feel, with explosive cymbal work, sublime rolls, deadly accurate foot work, and an accomplished sense of dynamics that makes him a driving force throughout this recording.
Credit also has to be given to the songwriting effort. The album flows from start to finish, and it flows well. Tempos shift, dynamics swell, moods swing, but the songs and the album as a whole maintain a very natural progression that simply makes sense. Listening from start to finish provides a far more fulfilling experience than skipping through songs. Unfortunately, certain people with certain prejudices against certain styles of music might feel the urge to do just that. Avoid the urge.
Drawing Circles certainly isn’t the most original recording in recent history, but it’s a well written, listenable, and enjoyable piece of melodic yet technical metal that deserves at least one spin.