Artist: In Search of Solace
Album: Regression | Progression
As a species, humanity is at a figurative crossroads. Just about everyone the whole world over is in agreement on one thing; something has to change. We simply can’t keep doing what we’re doing or else we’ll implode on a global scale—from gross mistreatment of our planet or of one another. Be it depletion of Earth’s resources or obliteration of one another with warfare that consumes the planet, we need to change—and there are two clear directions we can move in.
On one hand, we can move forward—we can overcome our obsession with violence, religion, fossil fuels and hatred and grow. We can progress. But on the other hand, we can let hatred consume us—we can strike against one another until a select few are left standing. We can become primal—regress. On their 2017 full-length release, progressive metalcore outfit In Search of Solace explore the meaning of both paths with lyrical stories and musical soundscapes. Indeed, the aptly named Regression|Progression is almost a “double EP,” wherein everything from subtle, soft jazzy elements are explored to the exploitation of eviscerating aggression and heaviness. In Search of Solace roam hither and to in order to create an engaging album that sprawls several styles in its effort to expand the listener’s consciousness and perspective not just on heavy music, but on the way they lead their lives.
Regression|Progression isn’t a clear cut double release in the sense that the first tracks are nothing but primal aggression and the latter tracks are more lucid and ethereal—although there is a gradient of aggression that flows downhill as In Search of Solace work through the nearly 40-minute release. Instrumentally, the album is a breeding ground for angular riffs and grisly grooves that function as a middle ground, oscillating between dream-like and drifting moments of atmospheric ambience and ten-ton, terror-inducing heaviness. Opening number “Birthright,” as well as “R.P. Ultra” and the slowly-building but brutal “Oracle” see percussionist Derek Ludgate working in a lurid and lacerating fashion to combine fast fills and furious fills with floor-shaking breakdowns. Ludgate’s deep kick drum is amplified by bassist Clay Saver on songs like “R.P. Ultra,” which even sees the duo explore slightly jazzy moments of atmosphere that aren’t truly brought back until “Discovery” and “(Re)Birth,” where guitarist Nick Pocock truly shines. Where Pocock’s intricate riffs and intense grooves are picture perfect examples of his musical excellence, his moments of clarity and softness on “Severstasis,” “Discovery” and “R.P. Ultra” are examples of him working outside the box, adding something extra to Saver’s slithering low end and Ludgate’s looming percussion.
Where Regression|Progression adds even more meaning to its name is within In Search of Solace’s vocal dynamic, defined by frontman Jonny LaDuke and guitarist Pocock. Together, the duo work brilliantly, with LaDuke’s grisly screams providing between 80-90% of the album’s lyrical intensity, leaving Pocock a marginal but significant amount of time to add his own contributions. The result? A combination of harshly screamed and cleanly sung vocals that seem largely reminiscent of early Northlane or Structures—which is nothing but pure compliment. LaDuke’s work throughout Regression|Progression is both catchy and crushing, especially on “Oracle,” which may not feature lots of vocals, but what lyrics there are surely will find themselves ingrained in the listener’s head. This is also true of the hectic opener “Birthright,” which is bitter and brash for its duration—not letting Pocock get much of a syllable in edgewise until the scintillating “R.P. Ultra.” In Search of Solace’s vocal dynamic is a profound strength of the release, with LaDuke’s lyrics and broad, blistering vocal range speaking volumes above and beyond his yells and growls—rather, adding passion and power to Regression|Progression in ways that instruments alone cannot.
I have to preface my following statement with a disclaimer—I don’t mean to impugn upon what I’m Search of Solace have accomplished with this record. However, in the grand scheme of things, Regression|Progression doesn’t do much that other albums in the genre haven’t already. Where it’s certainly more than a copycat, the influence by Northlane’s Discoveries is clear—as is the crush and groove drawn from Structures and After the Burial. Is this bad? Hell no—those are all fantastic things to draw influence from if you’re writing a progressive metalcore record, and what this young quartet have accomplished on this album is an excellent example of prodigal mastery of several styles of progressively inclined music. Where the odd breakdown or groove sounds somewhat homogenous compared to other moments on the album—and maybe a couple moments throughout Regression|Progression sound a little too much like yesteryear’s Northlane for their own good—nothing detracts too much from the listener’s ability to enjoy this record. Ravaging, ruthless and brash at points—yet miraculous and breathtaking at others—it makes the listener choose—Regression or Progression?
For Fans Of: Northlane, Structures, After the Burial, Volumes, Architects
By: Connor Welsh