Album: Treasures – EP
Human beings are obsessed with value—and, as a result, things that seem valueless. Whether it’s the hunt for immortality famed in sci-fi exploits or the obsession with “booty” and “buried treasure” that drive the ever-popular pirate lore, humans have an innate fascination with the discovery and ownership of increasingly rare and wondrous marvels. These items, as a result of their rarity and high demand, have been termed as Treasures—which couldn’t better describe the debut EP by New York groove-and-crush goliaths, Adhara. By combining atmosphere and ethereality with technicality, intensity and gallons upon gallons of groove, Adhara have created an experience which, while not necessarily a one-of-a-kind adventure through space and time, is still certainly an excellently executed example of hard-hitting progressive metalcore that is nothing short of a true gem.
Adhara begin the listener’s immersion into Treasures by first setting them free to wander in a veritable universe of ambient, drifting instrumentation. The flowing, loose tide of the instrumentation practically allowing the listener to get lost—especially in “Inner Mission” and “Essentia”—for, how can the listener truly discover the treasure that Adhara have to offer if they are not first lost? Enormous, hyper-ambient cathedrals of sound crafted by stellar, surreal guitar work and smooth, buttery bass guitar grab the listener by the shoulders and spin them mercilessly, dizzying them before setting them loose to wander throughout Treasures. Bassist Matt Serignese lets loose with a diverse array of bass riffs and popping, plodding melodies that course like aether into the listener’s ears and soak deeply in the gyri and sulci of the listener’s brain, pulsing and pounding in time with Austin Zanchelli’s splashy, cymbal-heavy percussion. All the while, Bryan Miller and Jason Pneuman sprinkle delicate, light and airy riffs overtop of the luscious, fluid low-end, providing a complete and immaculate immersion into Treasures’ ambience.
Before too long, the listener’s lucid dream in the atmospheric elements of Treasures is cast asunder by Adhara’s penchant for crushing heaviness. “Overlap in Rotation,” as well as “State of Aphasia” do a brilliant job in disrupting the listener’s daydream and thoroughly demoralizing them with dissonant, demonic chaos. Once airy and bouncy percussion changes its tune—still bouncy, but rather, bouncy to a different rhythm, jumping up and down on the listener’s cracked spine. The guitars take on a similar change of heart, as Pneuman and Miller swap out delicate, intricate ambience for in-your-face shred, and crushing, shattering heaviness that bombards the listener with wave after wave of pure dissonant chaos. These elements all synchronize to complement the diverse and stellar vocal efforts of Joe Scott. Scott makes wondrous use a gruff, harsh scream that, at times, borders on a shout. This reliance on a pure, straightforward vocal approach provides a common ground for the musicianship to rally around—a figurative sun for the Adhara’s goliath planets to orbit around. This can be seen done to perfection in the punishing, epic journey that is “State of Aphasia,” which is a lesson in pure, skin-rending metalcore with a progressive twist that will leave the listener’s head spinning for hours after the track subsides.
Like all journeys for irreplaceable and valueless treasure, Treasures does encounter some slight pitfalls on its pathway to glory. For one, the production behind Adhara’s effort is limiting to say the least. While tracks like “Treasured” and “Overlap in Rotation” are nothing short of brilliantly written, the production quality makes them somewhat inaccessible to everyone but the most determined listener. Additionally, while Treasures is a wonderfully written and thoroughly immersive jaunt into the galaxy of progressive metalcore, it isn’t much else. That is to say, beyond bizarre polyrhythms and complex time signatures, there isn’t much else that Adhara truly bring to the table to pique the interest of those who might be new or otherwise inexperienced in the nuances and subtleties of the genre. In short, while the listener will have no problem getting lost in the tidbits of pure originality and wonder on Adhara’s Treasures, they must first be willing to get lost—and wade through moments of stagnancy and “standard fare” for the somewhat overpopulated genre.
For all of the listener’s searching—pouring through hours upon hours and megabytes upon megabytes of nameless, generic metalcore acts—the real Treasure might just come from these up-and-comers from Up State New York. Adhara are capable of boundless heaviness and limitless atmosphere, all while having the technical wherewithal to link the two. Once the minor bumps and bits of turbulence are eliminated from the band’s mixing ability and dynamism are overcome, Adhara stand to become one of the few bands in the progressive music scene to exist truly beyond value.
For Fans Of: Towers, Structure, Borderlines, Volumes
By: Connor Welsh