Aliases like to keep their fans waiting. Five years on from their debut ‘Safer Than Reality’, and we finally have new music. To be fair, it’s not as though they’ve been sat on their backsides for the whole time, from recruiting new vocalist Joe Rosser in 2013, the start of the PledgeMusic campaign for this very record (set up two years ago) and the re-emergence of Graham “Pin” Pinney‘s parent band SikTh, times have been busy. So, where do we begin? Was it worth the wait? Oh yes.
Despite the length of time between releases, everything that made Aliases appear to be cutting edge and at the forefront of technical metal has returned here with the same, if not perhaps a slightly larger, impact. Refinement is key here, whether it’s Rosser‘s harsh/clean vocal delivery on ‘Find Where You Hide’ (listen out for the saxophone), or the nu-metal stomp of ‘Back To The Start’, which showcases some incredible harmonies with an impressive melodic atmosphere throughout, the high production quality is very apparent.
There are elements to this record that takes a few listens to really dig into the listener’s sub conscious, ‘Uncontrollable Desires’ being a key example of this. Such is the ferocity and technical aptitude that guitarists Graham Pinney and Lisa Woodward display, it sometimes feels as though the record is pulling in multiple directions at the same time, though this only demonstrates how other-worldly their guitar playing is.
On the flip side, accessibility through the majority of the record is generally quite high. ‘Smile All You Like’ has a retro, groovy feel to it, while album closer ‘Above The Sky’ has a much gentler approach, mixing dual vocal harmonies combined with slow drawn-out guitar finger tapping to a head-nodding tempo.
Oh, and let’s not forget the rawness on show. ‘Face For Lust’ is delivered at 100mph, being progressive, melodic, and grandiose all at once. You can hear the pure angst in Rosser‘s voice as the rhythmic clashing of (ex-)drummer Darren Pugh and bassist Jo Heaton combine to thunderous effect. If you’re a fan of Brighton troupe Architects, then you’ll like plenty here.
All being said, Aliases have delivered one of the standout technical metal albums of 2016 so far. Whether this is your thing will depend on how varied your musical tendencies are; let’s not forget that progressive, technical metal is a pretty niche genre. But, what they have achieved in creating is an album choc-full of interesting and accessible music with that extra layer of sheen that they were missing from six years ago.
If they continue on this upward trajectory, then they could well be sitting at technical metal’s top table in time for their next release. Let’s just hope that it drops before 2022…
Written by Neil Criddle (@DJCriddz)