In the past few years, the Progressive Metal and Rock scene has become very crowded and, as a result, a lot of ideas end up being repeated endlessly and true originality does seem to be hard to come by in this increasingly saturated market of copycats. Even with their name, Ginkgo Shock Dawn appears to be left-of-center of the current trend and this is also somewhat true of their new album Inward | Flare (This Is Core).
Straight out the gate, the scope of the album can be quickly judged. There are a myriad of influences scrambling for the listeners’ attention throughout each individual song which can serve the music well but can also feel slightly overcrowded. The album’s lead single, ‘Sadcasm’, for example, mixes Chevelle-twinged instrumentation with Serj Tankian-influenced vocal melodies hile ‘Mankerat’ throws in some very nu-Metal-esque riffs before morphing into a song obviously influenced by Karnivool and Tool, but not before throwing harsh vocals into that mix.
This melting pot of genres is also present in ‘Yedinyy’ and ‘Klys’, which are good songs in their own way but by now you can begin to sense the formula the band follows: there are moments where the band is following a particularly interesting music avenue before quickly turning into a completely different direction which doesn’t always engage the listener.
The pacing of the album is done well. With instrumental tracks ‘Kyrie’, ‘Allistee’ and ‘Ljos’ (all of which follow a more standard direction in comparison to their full-band counterparts), they offer the listener a palette cleanser. This is crucial especially if you want to indulge the entirety of the album in one sitting, to fully engage in the wide variety of twists and turns which is crux of Progressive genres without feeling overwhelmed.
Despite an album primarily dominated by songs with a variety of twists and turns, the standout tracks are those which follow a more cohesive structure. ‘Solar’ and ‘No Summer In Ohio’ both follow a very conventional crescendo structure which seems counterintuitive to include alongside genre-bending songs, but it acts as an important balance. These two songs are the longest tracks on the record and the length of the tracks allows the band to fully implement their epic ideas instead of condensing them into a shorter format.
The production of the album is raw but clear, being reminiscent of Lateralus (Volcano) in terms of production value, Inward | Flare bucks the trend of the clean and robotic production popular with many of their genre peers, all of which works in the album’s favor, although there are several moments where the vocals are swamped by the instrumentation. A strong outing for the band, there are a lot of songs that rely on erratic twists and turns and their best efforts are where they take their time and flesh out their grandiose ideas in longer song formats.
6 / 10