Recording as a trio without bassist Oleg Ermakov, St. Petersburg Russian Progressive Metalcore band Next Door To Heaven have started their next chapter with EP “Inside“. The follow up 2019 sophomore album “V Ways To Accept” released on Sliptrick Records and 2020 stand alone single “Dance With Me”, this time around guitarist Evgenii “Gene” Mazunov took the helm on the band’s sound with the use of a 9-string Ibanez while also taking on bass, arrangement and composition duties in the studio as well as Mixing and Mastering. Alongside him as always is vocalist Daria Mazunova and seasoned veteran Russian drummer Pavel Lokhnin, who you may know from his work in God Eat God, Dominia or even Perimeter. There is a Man Vs Machine theme that lies within the EP, a loose concept which is captured cover artwork by Liam Gregg and depicts a heart and car engine functioning as one. If you’re not familiar with the work of Next Door To Heaven then you won’t know that they’ve been flirting with DJent fueled Progressive Metalcore to create a frame work for the lush vocals of Daria Mazunova since 2014 and began recording in 2016 after guitarist Evgenii “Gene” Mazunov made his recovery from Thyroid Cancer.
This time around they pushed that a bit further and you could easily find yourself thinking you were listening to something new from Ukraine’s finest export Jinjer during “Dark Alley“. The dense Death Metal percussive battery from Lokhnin provides perfect balanced for the thick gauged string work and at times Gene sounds like he’s performing the work of two guitarists rather than one and as a song, a prophecy about the effects of isolation is very much on point. Going heavier with “Calibrate” doesn’t mean any harsh unclean vocals and in all honesty Next Door To Heaven don’t need them as their balance between light and shade as a whole is found that way. The dirge of the riffs that soak the whole thing in atmospheric rhythms is heavy enough on its own the carry the lush emotive vocals without any need for screaming. A track about not biting your tongue or holding back, “Unleash The Beasts” sees Daria Mazunova speak of gaining freedom and becoming a stronger person over slower, more atmospheric and equally brutal tones with a clever almost 1930’s moment of breath in finale that adds to the almost mournful quality of the lament. The title track soars above the clouds with a funkier guitar sound reminiscent of Tesseract while also having the kind of DJentisms that you may have heard on “Outside the Box” by Hacktivist, the combination of both style and substance that will keep you coming back to this for more. That Hacktivist mention also applies to “Flare Up“, which has former Stuck Mojo vocalist Lord Nelson bolstering the atmosphere with some bold spoken word moments and rap flow that embellishes a solid cut as shinny as a polished knuckleduster and just as deadly [8/10]
1. Dark Alley (3:47) 2. Calibrate (3:14) 3. Unleash The Beasts (6:01) 4. Inside (4:36) 5. Flare Up (ft. Lord Nelson, ex-Stuck Mojo) (3:44)
“Inside” by Next Door To Heaven is out 26th March 2021