It is one thing to create an inherently creative progressive metal album, but it is another thing completely to do it well. Philadelphia’s Heikousen have recently signed to heavy metal frontrunner Translation Loss Records and teamed up with Bury Your Dead producer Vince Ratti to wield a punishingly clean debut album Parallels, which was released on June 5th. With bouts of Dillinger Escape Plan type mathcore sections coupled with slow breakdowns intertwined with the squeals and double bass drum frills that you would expect from a band with the brand of label they are signed to, there is an organic atmosphere that is presented which isn’t seen often with a “typical” progressive metalcore release.
What really stands out with Parallels is not only the musicianship and clever arrangements, but also the two classical acoustic solo tracks and a third number – strictly instrumental – which provides an unexpected candor that exposes the true tasteful qualities of this band. I have to admit, however, that the unexpected instrumental pieces also supplied some humor as I was taken aback on the shrill contrast of one song being of a more fierce nature only then to be dialed down to a quiet and more peaceful tone. Can’t say I didn’t enjoy the experience though. “On Accidental Purpose” showcases some gritty rhythmic sections and the first introduction of clean vocals on the record.
It is difficult sometimes to adequately express in literary terms the deserving language to describe and perhaps even criticize the represented talents and honest expression of the artist, but there is a deep and untapped well of natural music ability that is apparent with this quartet. My only criticism of this record as a whole would be the vocals but candidly, vocalist Dave Grossman has a powerful scream. It is raw and still requires some growth, but overall, it compliments the chaotic axe work and careful yet brutal rhythm section very soundly. Talent wise I don’t want to miss any opportunity to talk these boys up. There is a musical prowess that has yet to peak, and the first track on the album is a testament to that. A shredding and eerie guitar solo that would rival any veteran metal player is seen at the halfway mark of the song while the other instruments stay constant and unhinged in the background. “On Accidental Purpose” is the most preferred track in my opinion. It is vicious yet musical. You will see this group being compared and even matched with groups such as Mastodon and Botch in the very near future if they continue to shred and produce refreshingly poignant progressive music. This album “parallels” all others in its genre and I’m sure it’s the first of many to come.