I previously stated that I couldn’t wait for more from Intrøspect , and now it’s finally here!!!
The EP begins with an ambient intro that features some spoken word and synth/keys to give an atmosphere that would feel right at home in a Christopher Nolan film. Creepy and foreboding.
The real business starts with Mjolnir, the lead single for this release. Obvious right from the beginning is how immediate the band presents their riffs and power. The big chords and dramatic delivery are all great but when the tone shifts darker again and the heavy chugs and screaming vocals come in from Liam McDonald (of Sydney group ‘Infinite Illusion’) it is an even more enjoyable ride. Where the track goes from there is purely cinematic in scope, the soaring melodies and keys are divine during the lull, the twists at the end are palate cleansing and the finale is crushing. 10 points for the tasteful solo and reminder that these players are top tier. The song slaps regardless and it’s great to say Introspect are BACK!
‘Itomori’ is a more of a slow burner; beautiful and musical without the previous aggression. The song has a way of making time feel slower with the space left in between phrases, the early drum pattern (which is a fun ear-bender) and Felicity Jayne’s vocals make this 5 minute track feel more like a journey through several. The mood shifts mid-way and the familiar guitars and energy ramp up but the unlikely appearance of a sax solo caught me off guard. It’s amazing! Highlight moment right there! I haven’t enjoyed a bizarre metal/sax moment like this since TesseracT did it!
‘Wisdom of Mountains’ takes the established Intrøspect sound and presents a carefully curated cross section of the ambience, guitar leads, subtle yet technical drums and a few tasty riffs for good measure. The video (below) is like a mindfulness resource as photography of the band is overlapped and interwoven with space and nature footage giving it a nice aesthetic. Much ambience. So chill.
Jumping ahead, there’s a curious track ‘Leap of Faith’. Intrøspect use a similar ‘spoken word/ambient’ tactic first heard at the start of the EP before launching into a smorgasbord of idea’s all in sequence. Its promising. The guitar solo is an attention stealing wow moment and the progression of the song build and builds to a fairly unexpected end. I thought ‘surely this leads into or blends with the next and final track?’ but…it didn’t. It just finished without reaching an end.
Leaving that last point for moment, the final track ‘Stars End’ is utterly fantastic. The drummer goes nuts, the leads and lines played are epic, vocals are really centered and sound less background and more up front. There is an uplifting vibe to this, the energy is much much higher, the tempo even kicks up a notch and there’s a LOT to enjoy. This is THE song. Amazing. If I’m showing this band to my mates, it will be with this song..even though there’s these new video’s and a whole previous EP.. it will be this track that gets the spotlight. I loved it.
Now here’s my critical feedback. While the EP sounds great, engineered to perfection on the whole Midnight Sun has problems with flow. The way this group use ambience and floating sounds, complex compositions and musicality in the songs to bridge sections and passages together is honestly a masterstroke of composition and songwriting but it makes no sense having an intro to the EP if it doesn’t set up the rest somehow. Like why not just start with the first song? I was confused with ‘Leap of Faith’ having an ‘intro’ of sorts as well…and that song kind of ends without resolving or (again) setting up the thing to follow it. The only track with screams (albeit by a guest vocalist) is up first and then we never get that heavy again. On the flip side I thought the mellow and beautiful ‘Itomori’ would have closed out the EP better than the sledgehammer ‘Stars End’.
There’s definitely something to be said for subverting expectations and sometimes that strategy is heaps of fun but these little things really grated on me. Maybe it’s just my expectations and biases here, perhaps the band wasn’t trying to create a seamless listen from track 1-through-6 and that’s totally fine! The way most people consume music these days is in line with single tracks and playlists, short listens and video’s rather than the whole ‘album’ experience. Whatever the case, chalk it up to personal preference.
TL:DR The songs are outstanding. This band is ambitious and incredibly capable. The art work is gorgeous and the video’s are mesmerizing. Introspect are the complete package and a sure bet for international attention. A post rock and prog fans dream.
Go get on it! The thing drops March 19.