1. Dictating (Voices In The Ocean), 2. Open Heart, Open Mind, 3. Breathing With Swollen Lungs, 4. Exposure, 5. Bent To Your Will, 6. Light On The Surface, 7. Speak To Me, 8. Suspended Motion
There are listeners, like me, who are looking for passion, intensity, might, emotions and soul cleansing locked all together inside sound, yet expressed with heavy guitar driven arrangements. Suspended Motion by Celestial Flesh is a perfect choice to fulfill such a desire.
The band's founder, Eric Machel (guitar, bass, drum programming, synth, production) has been playing guitar since he turned 15. In love with intense music by metal acts such as Meshuggah, Gojira, Tool, as well as a varied array of music genres, he has his own vision of music he wants to write and perform. Due to various circumstances however, this American musician has decided to launch a solo project instead of joining or creating a band. Either way, it’s great that he chose to invest his time and talents in music, otherwise we could have never heard of Celestial Flesh.
His newest album, Suspended Motion brings eight instrumental compositions which give a new meaning to the word 'intense'.
'Dictating (Voices In The Ocean)' opens the album with versatile arrangements and a skillful mix of genres. The core of the composition is based on down-tuned, syncopated bass and guitars. Synths and a higher guitar riff contrast the groove, so the mood becomes brighter at times. The drums (played by guest musician Ettore Fritz, also present in the next song) appear in all the right spots throughout the composition. Since the bass & guitars combo drives the rhythm, the drums step in only when a heavier beat is required. If you listen closely, you'll also hear traditional Eastern music arrangements on guitars.
'Open Heart, Open Mind' brings the best of progressive rock and metal together. Drums & bass arrangements represent metal while old-school synths are very typical of the former. Fans of Rush & Steven Wilson's music will feel excited. There are choruses and verses, composed very swiftly yet with pleasingly repeating themes. A diversity of perfectly matched riffs, beats and cold synth passages make the track sparkling and memorable.
Eric's a musical architect. He structures arrangements (bass) then paints them with moods (synth). Since he does listen to a variety of genres, he was able to incorporate their characteristics into his tracks, yet leave listeners without confusion. The less intense, but more atmospheric 'Breathing With Swollen Lungs' is a good proof of the above. There are moments of true progrock & progmetal passion with their knotty schemes drowning the world out easily. The beat present here in the more tender parts of the composition is just enough for an ambient track when supported by dreamy guitar riffs and looped synths. Again, fans of Rush-style bass will instantly recognize familiar sounds.
'Exposure' comes out quite innocently at first, with just a simple stick against stick beat and a gentle guitar riff, but then the arrangements grow big and thorny. The beat is taken over by down-tuned djent guitars but aside of their exponentially unfolding complexity, there are also delicate riffs, fast bass play and guitar soloing interlaced within. The track production and mastering are very well done, as various instruments are properly exposed when necessary, while the overall sound is kept clear.
One might think that there's no chance for progressive metal or djent to sound catchy due to their seriousness and intensity but Celestial Flesh tracks have hooks with decent amounts of hit potential. My personal favourite, 'Bent To Your Will', makes time and space become less important. Listening to it actually feels as if the track drags the listeners away from the ‘here and now’ and throws them into a new, undiscovered dimension instead. It begins with an in-your-face stitching guitar cannonade wrapped with a lovely riff. No sound is left unheard and all are equivocally important. The arrangements live their own mighty life as if they were flooding, erupting, crying, dancing, racing - so they will obviously seize your attention completely. Drums fit in between competing guitars very well, but get full exposure at time as well. Eric showcases his genius guitar & song writing skills here. A natural reaction to this experience may be spreading your arms wide, letting the sounds open and lift you up, then purify to the point of the transformation of your self. A truly addictive song that will rip your emotions from the depth of your spirit after the very first listening.
Now, as a counterweight to this behemoth of a song, the next track called 'Light On The Surface' let’s you rest, as it is characterized by a slower tempo and more rock (even hard-rock) oriented guitar and bass arrangements. This 7 minutes’ long track includes also fierce, repeating moments in the latter half of the composition, but its overall mood is more subtle compared to previous songs.
This undoubtedly therapeutic music is a perfect fit for someone with a good visual imagination. Play the album loud and draw what you feel while listening to it. 'Speak To Me' may be a good example, and it's the only composition on the album to include a person’s voice. To give you an idea, it's sampled the way Ministry used to play with G.W. Bush's speeches on their albums. Drums and guitars are bringing all elements of the composition either closer together while engaging in a friendly battle or driving them apart, giving each other enough space to flourish separately. A lot of high-pitched riffs are crushed into pieces with more down-tuned ones.
There's a good balance hidden in the tracklist - passionate songs are followed by calmer ones. The final track, 'Suspended Motion', features a guest appearance by Alex Basart on guitars and synth and is mostly a soothing, almost romantic affair, yet hides a few potent moments. It allows for taking a deep breath before... playing the album again, and again.
Suspended Motion is a masterpiece of which Eric Machel should be absolutely proud. It brings a powerful catharsis - the soul purification, for both the creator and the listener. Those who understand how music influences brainwaves and heartbeats, will love it. It's a truly colorful, superb release which should never be forgotten. Make sure it won't sink amongst all other indie productions - buy it, promote it, review it and interview this musician. You're gonna love it.
(Katarzyna 'NINa' Górnisiewicz, Fabryka Music Magazine, November 26th, 2014. Proofreading: Mike 'Vesper' Dziewoński)
This review on Fabryka Magazine: http://industrialrock.net/php-files_en/articles.php?article_id=546
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Reviewed by Fabryka Music Magazine