"some music was meant to stay underground..."

Polarization - "Chasing the Light" (CD)

Polarization - "Chasing the Light" CD cover image

"Chasing the Light" track listing:

1. Damages
2. Ultrazone
3. Pulse
4. Teardrop
5. Reanimate
6. Solar Attack
7. Neon Sky
8. Alive
9. Chasing The Light
10. Shape Shifter
11. The Other Side of Paradise

Reviewed by on December 13, 2012

"The core is always a djent riff, which start-stop-chug lovers will appreciate. The rhythms are a nightmare to keep up with at times, but are usually never more than a minute and a half away from being put to use in a cathartic tension release..."

The instrumental metal field is a paradox of sorts in that there aren't an overwhelming amount of established bands in the genre, but somehow the competition is fierce regarding musicianship within the genre. The bar has been set radically high, with most deriving from several distinct schools of thought regarding musical direction. Part of a modern offshoot, Polarization comes from the Meshuggah-esque school of djent-prog, also deriving a bit from the fusion side of the house, with equal parts Allan Holdsworth and John McLaughlin influence represented in the guitar styling.

When instruments get all the focus, the line of demarcation between rock and suck is a band's ability to both wield instruments expertly and have a decisive and engaging picture coalesce from the resulting music. Fortunately, Prashant Mathias (guitars), Steve Hilson (bass), and Tom Asvold (drums) are extremely competent players. Formed at the Musicians Institute in Hollywood, CA, the band has skill as an anchor for its sound.

Between bursts of jagged electronic programming and beats lay bouts of syncopated riffs, four- and five-finger tapped leads, synthesizer leads, and sparse piano passages. The core is always a djent riff, which start-stop-chug lovers will appreciate. The rhythms are a nightmare to keep up with at times, but are usually never more than a minute and a half away from being put to use in a cathartic tension release in the melodic styling. Several passages on the album easily sound like something Devin Townsend would use as backing if he delved into djent for more than just to be ironic.

There's no shortage of fills and leads, with truly virtuoso-level performances. This makes the lack of vocals bearable to those who don't really need them. Nevertheless, the lack of vocals gives this album a "glass ceiling" of sorts, because there are only so many people who can connect and truly love music without them. Those who can, however, are in for some real thrills and unique variations.

Highs: The diversity of melodic passages traveled, virtuoso-level performances.

Lows: The lack of vocals for 50+ minutes will try attention spans.

Bottom line: A collection of above-average instrumental djent-prog dreamscapes.

Rated 3.0 out of 5 skulls
3.0 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)