Artist: Amber Sea
Album: Infantile Visions – EP
Amber Sea are a band oddly well defined by their name. The combine the angular, meticulous and timelessly technical tedious nature of ancient, crystallized Amber, yet the moving, melodic emotability of a raging, tumultuous ocean. An onslaught of pulverizing percussion, abrasive breakdowns and chug-laden crush one moment and a smooth, serene sea of ambient, atmospheric instrumentation the next, Amber Sea are a perplexing, dynamic and diverse band–and their latest EP, Infantile Visions is proof-positive of that. Brief–but blistering–Infantile Visions is an intense album that fossilizes the listener with awe-inspiring, paralyzingly poetic song structure only to smash them into pieces with pummeling, punctual brutality.
The opening waves of Infantile Visions are tidal–crushing and immense in nature, walloping the listener with enormous, down-tuned aural assaults and bombarding them with deep, cantankerous percussive blows. Amber Sea open their EP in full swing, as “White Material – Sideral” showcases four and a half minutes of the band’s remarkably energetic facet. Percussionist Guy Tomel is a constant torrent of fill-heavy drumming as tumultuous and tremendous as a hurricane. “Shinigami” continues along these lines–as does a majority of Amber Sea’s material, making the most of out Tomel’s percussive expertise. However, even as his drumming gets more and more frantic, he is constantly accompanied by the low and bouncy bass grooves from the fingers of Axel Richet. Richet is a raunchy and writhing force to be reckoned with, adding thickness and heft to even the most tedious aspects of Tomel’s torrent of fierce percussion. Atop it all, guitarist Kevin Chesnais roams, spreading djent-dusted expertise that frequently dives into breakdowns heavy enough to be classified as “down-tempo” and dangerously close to Deathcore in nature. “Deci(mate)” showcases Chesnais’ crushing proclivity for heaviness brilliantly, laying Tomel’s terrifyingly low kick drum with earth-shaking chugs and gut wrenching dissonance–as vocalist Matt Rouland roars like a raging sea overhead. Rouland’s roaring, enormous vocals complete the lead-like heaviness that Amber Sea’s meatier, heftier side drowns the listener in. Rouland’s range spans highs and lows, visceral “bleghs” and raspy roars alongside Chesnais’ chugged out insanity to smash the listener’s spine and spear their ears with the fury and precision of Neptune’s trident.
However, just as suddenly as tides shift, Amber Sea shed their coat of aggression in favor of their softer, warmer and more progressive facet. Tracks like Infantile Visions’ epic closer embrace the band’s penchant for placid, deceptive calm–as Rouland’s vocals embrace a cleanly sung nature of are omitted completely, and Chesnais’ furious fretwork becomes subtle and jazzy. “Deci(mate)” displays this equally well–with a soaring guest vocal appearance and several drop-of-a-dime Jazz-influenced interludes, this song showcases Amber Sea for the masters of transition they are, guiding the band’s tone from gut wrenching to glorious, and smoothly into the listener’s ears. Serene and calming as these interludes are, however, they still feel–at times–forced, as if they’re there to occupy space and fill a void between the moments where Amber Sea truly rock the listener’s boat.
Infantile Visions is truly a chimeric experience–as it is a vast and deep as the sea, with the density and grit of raw earth and the airy atmosphere of our Ozone. Amber Sea prove themselves to be masters of songwriting and transitions with the epic structure and flow of “Black Materia – Meteor” and the spastic interludes in “Deci(mate).” However, where this quartet truly shine is during their most raw and relentless moments–times when they embrace their onomatopoeic “djent” influences and smash them head on with down-tempo dissonance and weight to smother the listener in brooding brutality. Tracks like the rambunctious “White Materia – Sideral” make the listener yearn for Amber Sea’s awesome aggression and all-encompassing rage; especially when they are in the midst of a cool (but sometimes out-of-place) interlude. At the end of the day, Infantile Visions has something for everyone, whether it’s chuggaholics craving cutthroat brutality or those with a penchant for the progressive, longing to be steeped in the band’s serene, sleep-inducing calm.
While it remains yet to be seen if Amber Sea have what it takes to be as timeless as the fossilized sap that serves as their namesake, they’re definitely off to the right start: equally talented as brazen heaviness and bewildering technicality, Infantile Visions is a release that sounds like a collection of beefed up B-Sides from Between the Buried and Me’s early years–if they had been crystallized and preserved into the present.
For Fans Of: Prime Meridian, Polyphia, Occulus, Volumes, Between the Buried and Me
By: Connor Welsh