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Impulse to Soar Tom Coles , October 19th, 2020 08:09

Athens-based post-metallers Calyces wind complex riffs around expansive vocals, finds Tom Coles

Greek newcomers Calyces play a style of nuanced, dynamic heavy music that's very much in vogue at the moment. Their delicate marriage of sludge and prog stands respectably against some of the better practitioners, even if they lack some of the personality of their peers.

Calyces lean into their prog influences, with more than a little Adrian Belew edge to the twisty riffs. In the softer sections they are nuanced and comfortable with evoking a dour mood, wallowing in their gloom before snapping right back. On the louder side of things, the tense, sinister tone is explored through some more overtly metal segments. This is best displayed on ‘Home’, where the taught riffs are played against the expansive vocals. One of the more consistently moody effects on the record, this technique is excellent for setting a tone and is occasionally gorgeous – even if they rely on it a little too heavily.

Modern-sounding though it is, the record suffers from the classic debut issue of being a little too close to their influences. In the louder sections they sail a little close to an Intronaut / Haken vibe, and in the quieter, softer moments they sound just a little too much like the flourishes on Baroness's Red album. These are effective techniques and they're certainly a pleasant listening experience, but they do wear a little thin when many of the record's quirks are from the guests, notably the saxophone solo from Shining's Jørgen Munkeby. It's a shame that this is a little transparent, because there's lots of joy to be taken from the syrupy vocal lines and thick prog riffing; they simply lack the distinctive voice that their peers exhibit.

This is tricky, because the genre prides itself on new ideas, making this a touch awkward. With that said, the record is full and rich, energetic and dynamic, and the lush melodies spill out from the tight, disciplined chugging. So often debut albums are disciplined, but here the virtue is a vice; Calyces could do with letting loose a little more, and taking risks beyond showcasing other voices.

Calyces fall short of making much of an impression, which speaks more to the general good standard of similar releases. We can be content, however, to enjoy their delightful approach to vocals, their ear for melody and the labyrinthine, serpentine coils of the complex riffs.