Progressive Metal is a very, very difficult genre to master. There are so many factors that have to be taken into account while approaching the songwriting aspect of it; the quality of the instrumentals, understanding what makes Progressive music progressive, how to make sure everything runs smoothly, and so many more that it’s difficult to list. A lot of thought process has to be put into the music to keep it captivating, gripping and interesting whilst not sounding like a ‘prog band trying to be a prog band’.
Take a look at Dream Theater, Periphery or even The Ocean Collective; the bands all have their own sound, their own development and make their music beautiful, rather than trying to be progressive for the sake of it. Now take the old school Black Metal bands such as Mayhem, Dark Funeral and Gorgoroth; these bands all thrived on their low quality recordings and low budgets to create some of the most evil pieces of art the world has ever been graced with. But if you mix those together, it doesn’t really work out in the band’s favour, and Myopic have hit that strain.
Whilst I do appreciate their approach as something original, unconventional and innovative, Myopic don’t hit the mark for many reasons; the main of those being the quality of the recordings and the songwriting efforts. In terms of the former, the production for the self-titled record reminisces that of an early 90’s metal band just starting out with little to no budget, just wanting to push music out there, and I can appreciate that they might not necessarily have the budget, but with the amount of studio engineers, producers and even home producers around today, they could definitely have pulled off a better sound if they put more of their focus into their production quality.
In terms of the songwriting efforts, it does have its cool areas. Take the beginning of the first track, Earth Mantle; it begins with a really chaotic, but well thought out introduction that will intrigue the listeners to continue on. Same with the next (and the shortest track on the album) Onward. The whole track is a well-blended mixture of Progressive Metal and Death Metal, with members Nick Leonard and Sean Simmons switching vocal duties between harsh and clean vocals, creating a nice texture and outer layer for the track. I do also have to take into account the fact that Leonard’s bass playing didn’t just follow the root note of the guitars, but rather created its own layer within the tracks, and the fact that you could actually hear it made me incredibly happy.
Unfortunately, those are really the only two things that stuck out to me whilst delving into Myopic’s self-titled album. A lot of the time, I became very uninterested and bored, and I’m 110% sure it’s because the songs in themselves were too long. That’s not to say I don’t love my long songs, Wintersun are one of my favourite bands in the world (if you’re familiar, their songs average 10+ minutes). However, when it comes to writing songs of such length such as In Exile (12:56), you always have to keep in mind when the song feels like it should be over, why you are creating a long song and if it could be split up into different sections. When you’re just writing a long song for the sake of being able to brag “I write songs that are always 7+ minutes”, and the product turns out to be lackluster, it doesn’t work out too well in your favour.
The low production quality of Black Metal, joined together with Progressive Metal when done properly, goes together really well; unfortunately, Myopic didn’t pull it off. However, if the band takes into account their production and songwriting in the future, they could definitely be on the rise.