5th February 2016 – Nuclear Blast Records
01. Oceans Collide
02. New Horizons
03. Shaping A Single Grain of Sand
04. Illuminate The Trail
07. The Fourth Prime
Textures are perhaps one of the defining bands of the djent movement. Their sound, which combines metalcore, progressive metal, and groove, has become refined over the years, coming to a head on the seminal Dualism, released in 2011. Since then, they have spent five years working on a pair of albums: Phenotype, which we’re seeing now, and Genotype, which will be released in early 2017.
It becomes apparent very fast that Phenotype is a new stage in evolution for the band. Early indications from advance singles “New Horizons” and “Illuminate The Trail” only hinted at what this album would bring to the table. Opener “Oceans Collide” is the weakest song on the album, and it is all uphill from there; Phenotype is Textures firing on all cylinders.
First and foremost, vocalist Daniel de Jongh puts on an absolute clinic in terms of both screams and cleans, transitioning easily between both. “Illuminate the Trail” features some of his best work on the album, opening with some powerful harsh vocals, and giving the listener a fantastic few lines of cleans both gritty and ethereal. The chorus of “New Horizons” is similarly excellent.
The guitar team of Bart “Bastærd” Hennephof and newcomer Joe Tal is a force to be reckoned with, furiously throwing out complimentary riffs and leads. “New Horizons” has a neck-jerkingly awesome guitar riff after the main body of the songs gets going, which is then overlaid with a fantastic lead melody, and “Shaping A Single Grain of Sand” pummels with some heavy chugging grooves. Again, “Illuminate The Trail” features their best works however, with some seriously heavy riffing, mega-grooves, a ripping guitar solo, and some great interplay. In fact, the whole track is the band throwing out one of the best performances of the entire year, from the drums forward.
Behind the kit, Stef Broks does a fantastic job of anchoring the band’s rhythm section, and gets his chance to shine on the drum-centered instrumental track “Meander”. Rather than a drum solo wank-fest, it’s instead used to build up a sinister marching atmosphere to transition into “Erosion”, and he does an amazing job with it.
Keyboardist Uri Dijk is also given his own spotlight on “Zman”, nestled between the brilliant “The Fourth Prime” and closer “Timeless”. It’s a lovely piece; a rest from the assault – but it’s no filler track. It feels like less of a transition than “Meander” did, and more a stand-alone piece.
The mix eelvates what is already a startlingly good record. It’s super sexy, almost sparkling, and lets every element through nicely. The compression isn’t over-used, although there could be a bit more dynamic range in some of the quieter spots. Still, Phenotype is a treat on the ears.
Phenotype is a shining example of how to push a genre into new and exciting territories, taking tested djent ideas and fusing them with pop and traditional progressive metal sensibilities. It showcases a mature band with forward thinking songwriting, and any fan of remotely progressive music should immediately insert this into their ear holes.