Artist: Invent, Animate
Have you ever looked at a crystalline structure under a microscope? Observed the delicate latticework formed by chemical and covalent bonds smaller than we can fathom—capable of holding back energies more than one thousand times what it took to form them in the first place. Even if you haven’t spent a lot of time in a laboratory or examining images of X-Ray crystallography, you’ve seen a snowflake, right? A snowflake is nothing but the purest and simplest example of a naturally occurring lattice; with each individual fleck of frozen water serving as a unique instance of natural beauty. Just as a flake frozen to the tip of your finger is an organic, unreal example of unique beauty, the sophomore full-length by Texan progressive metalcore band Invent, Animate is as well. An idyllic, icy example of dynamic heaviness and soothing melody, Stillworld is a furious—but frosty—example of excellent instrumentation and lyrical prowess fixing to create a tundra-like soundscape that will drop the listener’s jaw and frost their face before the first song is through.
Imagine a frozen pond in the late spring. The sun is spending more and more time in the sky—and while there is still an undeniable chill lingering in the air, the light is warm enough to bask in. If you sit and stare at the pond long enough, you hear a subtle shift—a slight snapping as the edges where the water is shallowest begins to warm enough to thaw the ice. Now imagine that frozen pond was Invent, Animate at the end of their debut, Everchanger. Solid, sturdy—but homogenous and with room to expand and grow. As Stillworldstarts, the subtle atmospheric shift strikes the listener the second the ethereal ambiance gives way to percussionist Trey Celaya’s crashing cymbals and crushing kick drum. Once “Agora” truly kicks off, Celaya cannot be slowed—whether it’s with brash examples of brazen brutality prevalent on “Darkbloom” and “White Wolf,” or during the subtle—but energetic and fluid—drumming on “Solace.” Celaya is the deep crack in the pond’s dense layer of ice that reaches the very center of the still body of water—and the slivers of shattered ice that branch off from his resounding backbone is the fretwork from bassist Caleb Sherradenand guitarist Keaton Goldwire. Sherraden’s slinking, low bass fills the space between Goldwire’s groovy chugs and soaring leads, serving as a dynamic firmament that adds punch to Celaya’s drumming while supporting Goldwire at the same time. And while Sherraden’s bass is crucial on songs like “White Wolf” and “Midnight Hymn,” it is Goldwire’s fretwork that truly steals the listener’s attention. Whether it’s his small effects in the breakdowns throughout “White Wolf” and “Celestial Floods” or his outright riffsmithing in “Vacant” and “Soul Sleep,” Goldwire is every bit the progressive metalcore master one would expect from Invent, Animate—giving Stillworld a very energetic and lively vibe while retaining a distinctly icy and distant tone.
As more ravines form in the ice atop our metaphorical frozen pond, they become louder, with more and more tension giving way with each snap and crack. They echo in the dead of the woods, sounding as if every snow-covered tree is chanting along in delayed harmony. This voice of the forest is Invent, Animate’s Ben English—the quartet’s voice and lyricist extraordinaire. English’s wordplay and poetic phrasing in “White Wolf” and “Dark Bloom” are excellent examples of his profound talent; just as songs like “Indigo” reference Everchanger ever so slightly enough to serve as a sly nudge-and-wink to long time fans of Invent, Animate. Where English’s lyricism is excellent, his vocal work is even more so. Sounding less like a clone of Adrian Fitipaldes and more like an organic and original voice, his growls, shrieks, shouts and cleanly sung passages on Stillworld are all excellent, with each being more memorable than the last. “Soul Sleep” is an underrated but unstoppable example of English’s skill—while “White Wolf” does justice to the album’s beautiful art and then some.
If you haven’t gathered yet, Stillworld is truly an experience—more so than Everchanger or any album put out by any of Invent, Animate’s peers. Even as the figurative pond thaws completely, the fresh and warm, fluid dynamism of the band washes over the listener with a profound bliss—the bliss of a band who has truly found their own sound. Where it would have been nice to have just one more song to fill out Stillworld’s somewhat short run-time, the album is still more than enough to convince fans that Invent, Animate didn’t get lucky with their above-average debut album. Rather, Everchanger was just the band getting started, as Stillworld completely envelops the listener, freezing them to the bone while simultaneously warming their heart.
For Fans Of: Northlane, Erra, In Hearts Wake, Architects
By: Connor Welsh