Extremities – Gaia (Painted Bass Records)

Monday, 29th January 2018
Rating: 8/10

It’s always interesting to see how certain sounds evolve and progress as they move from one generation to the next. Arguably, groovy progressive (djent) bands started by taking from the altar of Meshuggah, and one of the biggest acts to stem from that category would be that of Textures. Now with Extremities, we can see a distinct Textures-flair to their music, but they aren’t content to quietly ride the coattails of another act.

Both groove-heavy and atmospheric, Extremities play the two forces off of each other with Gaia. Serene, peaceful, and dreamy best some up the band at their most introspective and relaxed (see the opening to “Hydrosphere”), and they show no need to force abrasive moments in just for the sake of making them. Instead, these more mellow moments take their time and build things up, even going the extra mile to incorporate some saxophone into the mix (“Through the Dreamscape”). Vocalist Thimo Franssen can provide a suitable, rock-ish vocal when needed – intensifying it to help with building the atmosphere or mellow things down. But when the band does decide to ramp up the heaviness, they do so with brutal might. It’s easy to hear a track like “War” and be reminded of a Strapping Young Lad/Devin Townsend-esque wall of sound – with syncopated guitar riffs and grooves piling on top of harsh shouts and mammoth drumming. All of these things come together in splendid fashion for the 18-minute closer of “The Inward Eye,” which is chockful of different moments to keep you on your toes, be it a clean guitar strumming, saxophone, intricate progressive riffing, or snarling grooves and vocals. It’s the clear pinnacle of what Extremities can offer with their diverse approach to modern metal.

Taking the next step in progressive, groovy metal, it’s clear that Extremities aren’t afraid to put their own spin on a formula that many seem set on simply copying and pasting from the masters. Gaia is an excellent debut that should foster the band some deserved attention, while propelling them towards an even brighter future.

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