Album: The Fantasy Effect
Have you ever looked in the mirror and been shocked at the face staring back at you? I know I have–one time in particular I woke up in the morning and stumbled into the bathroom to brush my teeth. Listlessly looking back at me was my own face, but half of it was covered in blood from what must have been a late-night nosebleed, leaving a Harvey Dent-like (the Batman villain Two-Face, for the less-geeky among us) visage behind. Much like my own bizarre experience with the mirror, Twin Cities crushers Reflections create a bi-polar atmosphere with their debut release, The Fantasy Effect by combining harsh, slamming breakdowns, smooth, djent-tinged and calming ambient sections that will leave you wondering if this is real life–or fantasy instead?
The Fantasy Effect, like many of it’s aggressively groovy metalcore brethren begins by lulling the listener into a false sense of security. As “Ceilings” begins, chimes and ambient synth creep into the listener’s ears, just barely warning of the impending maelstrom. All of the sudden, bouncy, downtuned guitars kick in, and the soothing massage-like atmosphere which began the track is turned into a full-tilt assault, rending no inch of of flesh un-bruised. This tactic, the constant toggle between aggressive and calm, while used frequently throughout the album, turns out to be one of Reflections’ greatest assets. During the duration of each track, the listener is forced to wonder what’s around ever corner: a calming interlude? A crushing breakdown? Or even, perhaps a sweeping solo.
While the djent-esque styling of groove and grind is persistent throughout the album, so is the use of tech-death styled solos and instrumentation. Tracks like the cleverly titled “Ms. Communication” smoothly transition between each of the band’s respective elements, showcasing galactic ambience, grimy, sludgy breakdowns, shredding solos and smooth grooves one can’t help but bob their head to. While “Ms. Communication” certainly does it best, each track incorporates the various elements to different degrees, keeping The Fantasy Effect fluid and interesting while preventing stagnancy or repetition–two of metalcore’s biggest hurdles. The journey found within the track “…And Found” is another instance which Reflections is seen working at their peak. With a bass-heavy interlude and quick-hitting breakdowns which pummel the listener, along with a positively superb vocal performance, “…And Found” is easily an album highlight.
While The Fantasy Effect certainly has highlight-reel worthy tracks (“Ms. Communication” and “…And Found” being the best of the best), it’s greatest asset is the lack of an uninteresting or engaging song. Every moment of the album is packed with a distinct feel which is tangibly the collective effort of Reflections’ attempts to create a refreshing new combination of sounds in a scene which is rapidly approaching stagnant complacency. While some moments on the album are vaguely repetitive, not one of them sounds out-of-place of half-assed in the slightest. Every point–both musically and lyrically, original or replicated–is made boldly by the band with complete confidence in their ability and sound.
These days, it’s easy to get put off by the term “djent,” or any album which promises “crushing brutality” and “progressive musicianship.” However, to write off Reflections would be nothing but pure folly, as The Fantasy Effect has every element to beat, bruise and batter the listener into bloody submission, but leave them loving every second of it.
By: Connor Welsh/Eccentricism