Ah, summer. After a long winter (longer for some than others) and a drizzly, dreary spring, it’s finally here. Birds are chirping, the sun is bright, and for most places, the sky is clear. Kids are out of school and joy is abundant in the air, from the sun-drenched stratosphere to the vivacious and floral wildlife.
The entire world is in a state of Bloom.
While things might be a bit hotter and more muggy for Atlanta-based progressive metalcore act Separations, they prove that they’re still certainly capable of getting into the summertime swing of things with their sophomore full-length record, Bloom. Filled with colorful fretwork that shakes off an aura of glacial, crisp precision to include emotive and energetic aggression, this stellar act use an amalgam of music styles and a sprawling spectrum of heaviness to appeal to fans of anything that goes djent in the night—from Structures-esque catchiness and crush to uplifting and bouncy moments of proggy beauty.
While many progressive bands liken themselves more towards a frigid and crystalline musical structure akin to a barren northern winter, this group of Georgian proggers are adept at including elements from all four seasons into their latest effort. Bloom is erupting with life throughout its duration, from the onset of “Hollow” to the end of “Backfire,” with much thanks to percussionist and foundation of Separation’s diverse dynamic, David Richey. While “Hollow” sees Richey creating simplistic but gargantuan patterns of anthemic, alternative-styled drumming, quicker and more metallic songs like “Passenger” or “Stargazer” see his drumming taking on more unusual time signatures and unexpected fills, working excellently with bassist Brenden Worthington to create a beefy and thick low end. This low end dominates during heavier tracks, like “Stargazer” or “Backfire,” while it serves as a groovy firmament during more mellow and melodic songs like “Hollow” or “Passenger,” striking a balance towards the latter song’s climax and throughout the following song, “Exist.” Separations, however brilliant their low end might be, happen to be defined by the furiously fretted grooves and clearly played, icy leads from guitarists Myles Priest and Tyler Whitfield. Together, the duo shine on just about every song; “Exist” sees them working back and forth between subtle and distortion-free segments to dissonant and dirty grooves—while “Lionheart” is a lurid example of the latter and “Bloom” is a dynamic continuation of the former. Priest and Whitfield’s work throughout Bloom is beautiful and one of the highest selling points of the album, with the only contender being the funky and groovy synth work throughout the release, but especially during the climactic breakdown of “Stargazer.”
Vocally, where Separations’ instrumentation is fairly balanced between aggression and awe-inspiring melody, the band’s harshly screamed and cleanly sung vocals are a bit more lopsided. More often than not, Bloom displays a beautiful singing voice that adds emotion and depth to the diverse musicianship that serves as it’s canvas. Where raw and ruthless screams do appear—in “Brother” and “Passenger” especially—they add infernal heat and hellish heaviness, even though they feel anemic compared to the strength of the singing. This doesn’t inherently ruin the vocal dynamic on Bloom—it just detracts from the efficacy of the savage mid-range yells, especially when the lyrics being screamed are the closest to generic and contrived seen on the album. Separations’ music and instrumentation is brilliant and engaging, but their vocal element Falls ever so slightly short of that mark, giving the listener just a little less than they need to walk away satisfied.
Bloom has marvelous heights—like the chorus of “Clarity,” or the album-defining breakdown on “Stargazer,” but it also has stretches that are simply there—like “Bloom” and “Hollow,” which are both decent tracks in their own right but fail to full engage the listener. Ultimately, Separations manage to sculpt an album that has moments which will appear on 2017’s greatest hit reel—sections of sheer brilliance—but as a comprehensive album, makes only a marginal lasting impact on the listener, leaving a little to be desired and room for improvement to make their next release truly blossom.
For Fans Of: Structures, Volumes, Jamie’s Elsewhere, Greeley Estates
By: Connor Welsh