Here’s the thing about bare bones rhythm based djent, difficult as it may be, it’s about as fun as pinochle with gramma’s friends. On a larger scale, it garners the same kind of respect you give to that bro at the skate park who’s REALLY fucking good at one thing but that thing is stalls. The potential to create something challenging, musically aspiration even. It just has to be fun to listen to is all. The debut EP from Indiana based Sirens (This is the same Sirens we featured a while back) puts a cool spin on the djent thing and takes an admirable ownership of its more robotic qualities. Though it lacks the fret acrobatics a wankmaster like myself enjoys, the result is ethereal and futuristic.
They claim to blend their music with a variety of progressive and electronic elements, including –brace yourself– dubstep. Yet, aside from some stuttering synth effects here and there this doesn’t really show up. So, don’t go painting a goofy picture a la Skrillex vs Korn in your head before actually giving this one a spin. Most of the electronic elements are atmospheric and, for better or worse, don’t linger too long. On “Cloudbreak” and “Unstable and Floating” the jagged riff/synth combo is catchy as hell. The synth-backed lead guitar sequence on the latter, its harmonies and interplay, provides hints of what this band is really capable of. It isn’t a indulgence in scale runs but a nice construct of notes that still emphasizes rhythm as the driver. The same thing happens in the middle of closing track “Propaganda” as the melodies carry the song away.
Though the young and unsigned Sirens don’t quite crack the compositional prerequisite that carries the broader appeal of artists like Carthage or Chimp Spanner, they are doing something relatively original. From the perspective of someone who isn’t moved as deeply by contemporary progressive metal trends, what the debut EP lacks is unpredictability and entire sections sometimes drag a consequence. The vocals, both harsh and clean, are crisp but monotone and the electronic elements simply need to be let off their leash. Each melody and synth overlay is distinct but it never floors you or sits you up to take notice. An elaborate electronic sequence, maybe one unhindered by the thundering low end of the guitar or an occasional sequence that focuses on chord changes (like that on “Propaganda”) would be a major step forward for the band’s progressive ambitions.