Uneven Structure’s long-awaited follow-up to one of the best modern progressive metal albums ever (2011’s Februus) is an exercise in patience and balance that absolutely rewards those willing to wait. It’s also somehow a (very slight) disappointment and the start of a stunning path forward. The French group’s style finds the mid-point of a Venn diagram with Tool, Meshuggah, and Pink Floyd, which made for hair-raising music that bridged the heaviest post-Meshuggah riffing with abstract melodicism that is basically a French trademark at this point. Things are a bit more balanced with La Partition. Except for a truly magnificent conclusion (and some fantastic bursts of aggression splattered about), the heaviest side of the band’s musical equation has been toned down on this record, making room for dexterous rhythmic prog and pensive atmospheric sections to lead the way; the album’s middle focuses quite heavily on building a spacey atmosphere befitting the album’s out-there themes.
The album does spend a bit too much time dragging the listener into its beautiful, moody atmosphere, which allows the album to sputter until Uneven Structure kicks things into the highest gear of their career. From the cataclysmic “Funambule” to the effervescent “Your Scent”, La Partition is electric and represents some of the best post-Meshuggah progressive metal I’ve ever heard. It’s dynamic, magnetic, and truly transcendent in a way that top-tier French metal seems to be able to tap into.
For almost half of the record, La Partition represents the best and most majestic music of Uneven Structure’s career and a bold reinvention of their core sound into a more rounded out monster. If only the slightly underwhelming mid-section weren’t so, well, merely adequate, this album wouldn’t feel like a tiny bit of a letdown. That said, it’s clear that the long wait was actually very well worthwhile, as it allowed the band to tighten its grip on what it does best. By that metric, Uneven Structure’s third album should be monolith, and I eagerly await where they go next.