A Sense of Gravity
Let me cop to one of my biggest problems in life: I’m always late. It’s not that I’m necessarily a Type B person (those screenshots of thousands of unread emails give me the heebie jeebies), but I will literally do other things before doing that thing I have to, and I always underestimate the time it takes for me to get ready by a couple minutes, making “Nick Senior Time” about five minutes past the real time. So it makes sense that I’m totally late to the crazy, tech-y, jazzy party of A Sense of Gravity’s sophomore record Atrament. I, like many other prog nerds, enjoyed the band’s debut, but Travail was definitely an acquired taste. The band don’t really ascribe to one preconceived subgenre of prog, so compartmentalizing them in my brain was a challenge. Their style recalls Between The Buried And Me’s love of the operatic and erratic, Haken’s retro tinges, and early Periphery’s love of melodic technicality.
Thankfully, A Sense Of Gravity haven’t altered their formula here; they’ve just further honed on what makes them a compelling band. The biggest sticking point is C.J. Jenkins’ varied vocal performance. His lower register singing is a bit off-putting at first, but his higher register and bonkers harsh vocals are sublime. However, holy shit these guys can play, and it’s a huge compliment to the band that these tracks continue to surprise without resorting to “oh hey, here’s a random part we liked; we’ll just put it here” style that plagues a lot of prog metal. Every song on here is interesting and multiple listens are especially rewarding to piece out minor details; it’s like a twist-filled movie where finding out the twist makes future viewings somehow better. If I have one quibble, it’s that the balladry of “I, Recreant”, which understandable in the context of the album, just doesn’t work. It’s a alright song, but it feels grossly out of place next to the excellence that surrounds it.
Don’t be late to the party like I was. A Sense of Gravity are one of the most promising new prog bands to come out in a while, and their upward trajectory promises future greatness. Atrament was easily one of the top three prog albums of 2016, and I’ve made a note to change my behavior. That is, until the next time I can be late to something…