Album: World Divide – EP
Perhaps when you hear the EP title World Divide, you picture an archaic-looking, black-and-white album cover with lyrics about the earth splitting in twain, laden with slam riffs and blast beats and breakdowns at mind-numbingly low beats-per-minute. I don’t blame you—it’s a stereotype, and stereotypes are stereotypes for a reason. However, the album that progressive metalcore juggernauts Sentinels provide to the listener—with the same name, mind you—is far from the generic apocalyptic imagery and sound that one might expect from the heavy music underground. Instead, these New Jersey masters of groove and gritty aggression provide the formation of two worlds from one on World Divide. Where one world is very much the bouncy, groovy and catchy display of metallic prowess present on their previous album, Idylls, the other world is infinitely more chaotic and aggressive—sounding distinctly influenced by the likes of Ion Dissonance and The Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza. The result? A progressive metalcore release that is both catchy and crushing—the best of both worlds that heavy music has to offer.
Sentinels take the finest aspects of progressive music’s heavier side—the polyrhythms, the grooves and bizarre time signatures—and extracts them with precision and care, placing them into a background of pure intensity. From the moment “Avidity” explodes into the listener’s heads, the band works tireless to keep the listener constantly engaged. Percussionist Dave Rucki is nothing short of incredible, serving as the band’s arrhythmic and unpredictable heartbeat. His flashy, insanely technical fills and fleet footwork on “Extinct by Instinct” and the mile-per-minute “Consequent Aversion” steal the show—where his snare on the aforementioned “Consequent Aversion” and the album-closing “Subvert” are bound to make the listener’s jaw drop—adding a sheer ten tons of skin-ripping force to the already-eviscerating breakdowns that define both songs. While Rucki is plenty quick, he is also steady—when he wants to be, that is. This allows him to work excellently with Danny Cruz’s crushing, gritty bass. Sure, Cruz is plenty talented enough to keep up with Rucki’s ruthless speed, but its times where Rucki slows it down a notch that the duo can craft truly terrifying testaments to brutality. These moments are abound towards the ending of “Avidity,” where Rucki and Cruz blend together in dialectic harmony, creating a low end that brings more beef than every Wendy’s restaurant in North America—all so guitarists Thomas Cardone and Chris Dombrowski can redefine how the listener thinks of “chaos.” Cardone and Dombrowski take the sounds of Structures at their grooviest and infuse it with Danza-esque insanity—sounding almost like a groovy Dysphoria, but with an intangible and somewhat ethereal feel to it. While Sentinels are far from atmospheric (save the interlude and brief moment of rest in “Efflorescence”), Cardone and Dombrowski manage to capture and emulate insane, tense energy while adding groove, catchiness and just enough space between every spastic riff and chug to allow the listener to keep pace and enjoy every second without feeling overwhelmed or (too) oppressed by the duo’s insane talent and penchant for pure, perfunctory punishment.
However dynamic the instrumental interplay between Sentinels’ stellar musicians may be, it is amplified tenfold by the vocal performance provided by Robert Petrusky—aided by bassist Cruz. Where the quintet carefully strides the line between chaos and calm, collected creativity musically, they do the same vocally. Petrusky’s vocals are thick and intense—ranging from gritty low bellows to piercing shrieks without fail—and is complemented both by Cruz’ voice and the appearance of several guest vocalists. Where three guest appearances across a seven-song EP may be a little over-done to some, Sentinels have taken every step to ensure that the guests on World Divide help the album to live up to its lofty name. With “Consequent Aversion” featuring the distinct shouts of Reflections’ Jake Wolf and Currents’ Brian Wille coming out of left field on “Polar,” it’s easy to overlook just how excellent Petrusky’s vocals are on the entire album—something the listener should take extensive precaution to avoid. Petrusky is a powerhouse in his own right—with his vocals soaring throughout “Avidity” and “Subvert” with no big-name guests to distract from his sheer talent.
Sentinels are a band with little relative prowess to their name; they don’t have a sprawling reputation to live up to not are they necessarily globally known in the underground heavy music sphere—but with World Divide, that could change, and rightfully should. Seven tracks of stunning, technically immaculate intensity portioned perfectly between segments of subtlety and calm, World Divide is to 2016 what Structures’ All of the Above was to progressive metalcore’s relatively young years; a rehearsed and ruthless display of dizzying excellence.
For Fans Of: Structures, The Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza, Volumes, Veil of Maya, Reflections
By: Connor Welsh