It’s On The Furthest Side of Metal
A gentle motion awakens our slumber. Upon opening our eyes, a stormy sky welcomes. Panic takes over the body and, as it shoots straight up, we anxiously assess our surroundings. We’re lost, set adrift at sea with no recollection of how we got there or, much worse, how to get out. This type of scenario seems like it would accompany a soundtrack of echoing haunted hallows, boisterously loud crashes and shockingly jolting screeches; but such is not necessarily the case. Outside the implicit fear, is an apparent adrenaline-fueled adventure best personified by the debut full length from fusion supergroup Nova Collective, The Further Side.
Only six songs make up The Further Side, but each of them are integral to the journey that makes the album what it is. This type of audible jaunt is typical of its members, seeing that bassist Dan Briggs (Between the Buried and Me, Trioscapes), drummer Matt Lynch (Trioscapes, Cynic) and guitarist Richard Henshall and keyboardist Pete Jones, of Haken fame, have made progressive rock and jazz fusion the predominant marks of their individual projects. Their other bands lend a lot of sound towards other elements of metal. Their work as Nova Collective so far gets down to the nitty-gritty of heavy progression and technical arrangements that become so easy to get lost in.
It all starts with the near 10-minute opener of The Further Side, “Dancing Machines,” the first single and video to be released from the album. It introduces an incredibly mechanical approach to the drumming, keyboarding and bass playing, while Henshall’s guitar starts running a math rock course.
When it comes to instrumental records, a lack of vocal contribution requires additional approaches to variance and intrigue — factors that Nova Collective have conquered beautifully on Further. “Cascades” stays true to its name, riddled with a cascading multiform of jazz harmonies that teeters more towards complexity than mellifluence.
A zany piano technique leads the hardest rock-sounding song on the album in “State of Flux,” before a funky bassline elevates the track into some spacey, psychedelic tendencies. One of the most dynamic songs on The Further Side is “Air,” which features a strong Eastern influence in its instrumentation that dances with the track’s strong progression.
Even for non-appreciators of these genres, The Further Side fastens itself into a position of being a good starter album into the genre, while staying entirely true to Nova Collective as an entity. It’s unapologetic in its progressive fusion and could easily be the musical manual for such.