Review: Northlane – Singularity

Singularity-Cover-FINAL-LoResSingularity, the sophomore record from Aussie progressive metalcore act Northlane, proves that the band have what it takes to bring a jolting breath of fresh air to a genre that has sorely needed it for years. Northlane’s sound stands apart from that of many of their contemporaries for a few reasons; foremost among them is their ability to write songs that resonate strongly on both a visceral and cerebral level. While many bands in this scene seem to neglect emotion in favour of technicality, or vice versa, Singularity serves as a reminder that one need not be sacrificed in order to gain more of the other. While the album features plenty of impressive musicianship that ought to satiate the palettes of technically inclined listeners who are drawn to the virtuosity of bands like Periphery and Veil Of Maya, it also demonstrates a great deal of heart. The softer, more introspective passages (see “Quantum Flux”) add a great deal of depth not only sonically, but emotionally as well. When the band do decide to go for sheer assault, be it through breakdowns or otherwise, these peaks are made all the more impactful by the fact that they’ve been properly built up to. Northlane excel at smoothly transitioning between vastly different passages, allowing them to write dynamically sound songs that combine dense, atmospheric soundscapes with more straightforward riffs.

In addition to occupying a golden mean musically, the band are similarly balanced lyrically. While the group pride themselves on upholding a message of positivity and inalienable hope, and Singularity stays true to this basic premise, the lyrics aren’t so overbearingly sappy that they cease to be interesting or thought-provoking. The band don’t completely ignore the harsher aspects of life; they confront them and highlight the inherent struggle in retaining positivity in the face of adversity, coping with suffering, et cetera. While the lyrics aren’t extremely unique, they feel like they’re coming from an honest place, and are actually about something. This makes them worth becoming familiar with and seriously dissecting, which is more than can be said for a significant portion of Northlane’s peers.

Singularity is among the best albums of 2013 thus far. Perhaps the most exciting aspect of this release is the fact that Northlane are still fairly early on in their career, and if they continue to develop and refine the skills on display on this record, could go on to become one of the finest bands the metalcore genre has ever seen. Hopefully the future will see the band continuing to build on their already-impressive songwriting skills, tackling more challenging subject matter lyrically, and giving their rapidly expanding audience a discography that represents the pinnacle of what heavy music can and should be.

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