Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Review of "The Second Mechanism" by Diagonal

Buy this album

1. Voyage / Paralysis
2. These Yellow Sands
3. Mitochondria
4. Hulks
5. Capsizing

If any band can claim to have kick-started the current UK Prog revival, it is Diagonal. The band's self-titled 2008 debut album threw open the gates for a wave of like-minded bands to follow, attracting a heap of critical praise and picking up a nomination for Best New Band in the 2009 Classic Rock awards for good measure.

And then, just as suddenly as they had arrived, Diagonal disappeared. The departure of founder members Alex Crispin (Vocals/Keyboards) and bassist Dan Pomlett forced Diagonal into an unexpected hiatus. Diagonal needed time to regroup, to re-build. Original guitarist Nicholas Richards switched to bass and the band slightly stripped down their sound.

The Second Mechanism is the sound of that band reborn, ready once more to propel listeners on a journey to the outer reaches of rock music. But this is a more focused, more intense, more powerful Diagonal; a gleaming amalgam of Passport, Jaga Jazzist, T2, Dungen, Magma, Bo Hansson and Black Sabbath, forged in the crucible of experimentation.

The normal rules do not apply here; there is only the obsessive, unashamed spirit of eclecticism and no-holds-barred musical excess. Thunderous and hypnotic; euphoric and brutal, Diagonal is uncompromising in its approach and fearless in the creation of music which combines Prog, Jazz, Psych, Krautrock and Metal into an intense and explosive mixture which seems to belong to neither past, present nor future, yet somehow sounds like all three.

The album starts off with “Voyage / Paralysis,” bringing a great mix of guitar leads and harmonization with the wind instruments, along with a very laid back bass line and groovy drums which made for a very mellow time. The bass quickens pace half way through and is met by some synthesizer which made for an interesting feel. An epic saxophone solo is near the end of the track. “These Yellow Sands” has more harmonizing of the saxophone and guitar and I don’t know what it is about that combination but it is just too amazing sounding and also relaxing. The faster harmony parts of the two instruments is really amazing and the heavier progressive bit a little over half way through is really awesome with the chugs and saxophone creating a really beastly sound.

The groove from the bass, guitar and drums with the accompanying saxophone is very trance inducing on the next track, “Mitochondria.” The bass riffs are very catchy and there is more incredible harmony from the guitar and saxophone. I especially liked the faster technical diddle the two did. “”Hulks” is the first track with vocals, which were really well done. This is a very gloomy feeling track with the backing vocals and the way the saxophone flowed. The bass lines and lead guitar, as well as keys also add to the overall eeriness this track brings. The last track is “Capsizing” with a soothing intro of bass with a catchy drum beat and accompanying saxophone. Some interesting spastic sax bit follows which made for a good time. This may be one of my favourite tracks just because how each of the instruments plays with the other and makes for a very catchy nine minutes of progressive jazz perfection.

Diagonal has brought me something I have not heard from since Trioscapes released their album. With a mix of guitars, bass, and drums and jazz instruments harmonium, saxophone, and clarinet, Diagonal create a very interesting yet epic concoction of jazz-infused progressive metal. I highly recommend this album if you want something more easy to listen to as this is more jazz like than metal like. Although I say this they are still heavy in their style, but I mean that this album can be enjoyed by all!

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