Review: “Shadow Play” by Quietkind

Wausau, Wisconsin Progressive Metalcore crew Quietkind released album “Shadow Play” on 2nd February 2018 via We Are Triumphant, (label home to FRCTRD, We Set Signals & Miss Fortune) to some critical acclaim via independents but only came to our attention via popular demand for a review after recent non-album new single “Shapeshifter” appeared. The trio (yes, trio) consist of frontman Nick Becher, stringsman Evan Jordon and sticksman Dolan Kallin and according to Spotify’s statistics get more listeners in our capital London than they do in an assortment of cities in the native US.

“Failed State” uses media commentary snippets to intro the lyrically socially aware song around bouncy DJent inspired riffage and and unclean vocals before overlaying with Metalcore guitar leads. The guitar solo is something often left out by bands in favour of breakdowns or breakdowns with overlaid lead parts but the presence of one here is a joy. “Stray” adds some staccato DJent-isms while building atmospherics with dark buried rhythms. Again using Metalcore inspired leads sparingly but to add colour, depth and contrast to the bouncy DJent rhythms works well, providing progression to counter weight the harsh unclean vocals. The deliberate slow down to allow the leads more space as the song fades out is a masterstroke. “Limbo” then increases the energy and pace during the intro that adds buried electronics to enhance the overall sound and atmosphere. Leads that are reminiscent of what someone like Oli Herbert from All That Remains or Adam Dutkiewicz of Killswitch Engage would produce and should jar with the progressive tech-metal but instead do the opposite and provide a beauty not normally associated with the pounding nature of the poly rhythms on show. The electronics close out the song with a creepy fade that makes us think of something like James Wan’s Saw film franchise. “The Worst of Us” starts with the same electronica before driving into perhaps nu-metal inspired lyrical darkness. The slow rise and fall tech-metal of the bridge underpinned by atmospheric synths is very much the progressive tech-metal of now.

“Dawn” starts the second half of the album with a furious pace and a flourish of lead guitars, balancing light and shade within the same pendulum swing. A huge solo demonstrates just how good guitarist Evan Jordon is adds another string to the bands bow. The absence of any clean vocals to this point is also a well thought out choice. The balance of light and shade is achieved with the guitar work only and that is all that is needed. “Twilight” makes another step up in the guitar work, which improves as the album plays out. Bouncy tech-metal poly rhythms underpinned by pounding drum fills and nuanced guitar squeals and lead segments that flow neatly before returning back to their root. There is also epic solo mid-instrumental adds a bright flourish and a back and forth between that and crushing DJent before a one line vocal and electronic closing that almost appears unnecessary. “Dusk” then takes up the baton with something equally inspired and repeating the same vocal line from the previous track. Frontman Nick Becher exposes his personal life with lyrics about a previous relationship and the rawness of the vocal suits the crushing guitars in the verse while also playing neatly against the leads in the chorus. Title track “Shadow Play” continues the progressive DJent vibe with more socially and politically aware lyrics and while avoiding the obvious “Blegh!” moment, it does have a “bounce!”. Ending with a dead stop rather than the fade of previous tracks leaves you wanting more. It’s a groove laden and intense affair that uses all of the bands previous material to produce a track that both summaries the album and the bands overall sound as a whole in one need package.

“Shadow Play” is a powerful and impressive statement piece that had brings Quietkind into the currently flourishing progressive tech-metal scene and puts them centre stage with strong technical musicianship and powerful and engaging lyricism. The absence of any clean vocals in favour of using lead guitars and electronica to provide light from the darkness of unclean vocals and crushing bouncy DJent is in stark contrast to many of their peers but also sets them apart wonderfully. They may take a different route than the likes of Arcaeon or Valis Ablaze but the outcome is still a joy – progressive tech-metal at it’s finest. The pendulum swings of the guitars between the crushing tech-metal and the melodic Metalcore keep you engaged while the pounding footwork of the drums maintain a pace to the whole offering. It’s also nice to have a variety of lyrical content to muse upon, ranging from the close and personal to social and political showcasing all kinds of inspiration, while the deliberate avoidance of falling into some of the scene trappings and moving away from it’s more obvious elements makes it stand out even further [8/10]

Track listing

  1. “Failed State”
  2. “Stray”
  3. “Limbo”
  4. “The Worst of Us”
  5. “Dawn”
  6. “Twilight”
  7. “Dusk”
  8. “Shadow Play”

“Shadow Play” by Quietkind is available over at bandcamp.

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