Artist: Until Rain
Album Title: Inure
Label: Sensory Records
Date of Release: 28 April 2017
I tried to get this review published before the European release date of 28th April but I have failed rather spectacularly. The primary reason for my failure is the fact that the music on ‘Inure’ is so very good and so disarmingly technical and nuanced that it deserved my full attention to enable as full a review as I could muster. In the timeframe I gave myself, this simply wasn’t possible. But good things come to those who wait and so here we are with my final, considered thoughts about this record.
Until Rain are a Greek progressive metal band who, rather delightfully, have sought to blend ‘old school’, classic progressive metal a la Dream Theater et al, with sounds and ideas much more modern in their approach. There is a danger in trying something like this because it can result in the music falling between several stools, with fans struggling to get to grips with the output. In the case of Until Rain and ‘Inure’, this is most definitely not the case. Admittedly, it took me a while to fully appreciate the music on offer here but now it has clicked into place, I have no reticence in singing its praises, recommending it to those who like well-crafted and intelligent progressive metal.
For a start, the basics are all in place, present and correct. The production, which was mixed and mastered by Daniel Cardoso (Anathema), affords the music a crystal clear yet powerful sheen, whilst the dark, moody artwork draws me in like only quality album covers can.
And then each of the six musicians that comprise Until Rain, namely Cons Marg (vocals), Donna Zed (backing vocals), Theodore Amaxopoulos (guitars), Lef Germenlis (keyboards), Linus Abrahamson (bass) and Matthew Vella (drums), all deliver their parts with consummate professionalism and not a little panache along the way. More than that, the music on this album is imbued with a vibrancy and assuredness that only comes from musicians that are fully invested in their art. This is all the more impressive given that only Amaxopoulos and Germenlis remain from the band’s previous studio outing.
For all that, ‘Inure’ strikes me as a very serious affair because, despite being a progressive album, there’s only occasional frivolity and very little that’s outright bonkers or saccharine. Thinking about it, the dark and moody artwork fits the music like a glove, for equally, ‘Inure’ is not a happy, bouncy album. It is steeped in a cloak of pensiveness for the most part where the atmospheres are strong and often thought-provoking in tone.
Most importantly, I keep coming back to this record, like the slavish moth to a flame. And the reason for this is actually rather simple; the compositions are beautifully crafted and within the elegant sophistication, there are moments of bright clarity along the way, delivered either by an insidiously catchy chorus or a grower of a melody that burrows deep within. They are not always at the forefront of the songs, but with repeated listens, the effort is repaid tenfold.
It is difficult to know where to start or which songs to highlight because I can honestly say that each of the nine tracks and one bonus cut offers something genuinely interesting and immersive. There are no duff tracks and no dips in quality, meaning that ‘Inure’ displays an incredible consistency.
In that case, I’ll stick with convention and begin with the opening track, ‘Progressus In Idem’. Ushered in with a strangely haunting circus-like melody, it takes only a few seconds for a big riff and layers of atmospheric keys to kick in. The riffs morph into something more stop/start and djent in nature before falling away to be replaced by a subdued Katatonia vibe. And then, almost out of nowhere comes an urgent, driving chorus melody which starkly juxtaposes the heavier material, which is further toughened up by gruff vocals that counterpoint Marg’s more normal smooth, clean delivery, frequently assisted by Zed to great effect.
By contrast, ‘New World Fiction’ begins in a slightly more immediate fashion whilst retaining those dark overtones. The piano tinkles warmly to offset the sombre feel of the lyrics and as the song develops, I’m reminded of Swedish art/prog rockers A.C.T. in terms of the bittersweet nature of the music.
Next up is, without doubt, one of the stand-out highlights of ‘Inure’, namely ‘Because Something Might Happen’. Refusing to stand still, this impressive composition twists and turns from moment to moment, down dark alleys and back into the light, to heavy depths and to quieter realms. The timing signatures never rest and so the listener is kept on their toes throughout. The keys hark back to the yesteryear of prog rock and there’s even a nod towards more theatrical forms of music but it remains a thoroughly modern piece of music that is both challenging and beautiful.
As I have already stated, there’s no fall in quality in the record’s mid-section, far from it. ‘This Fear’, for example, is a rich and deep composition that introduces a slightly more laid back vibe as well as a more demonstrable classic prog metal approach in terms of the importance and boldness of the keys and the more extended instrumental passages. The acoustic guitar and bass intro to ‘A Tearful Farewell’ is a thing of subtle beauty that is made all the more powerful thanks to some of the strongest melodies on the album as well as a really captivating vocal performance from Marg, particularly as the song builds in intensity rather majestically.
And then the record ends just as commandingly, thanks to the closing pair of the utterly gorgeous and beguiling ‘A Broken Wing’ and the 13-minute title track. The former is a sensitive piece that allows warmth and beauty to lead from the front, accentuated by some wonderfully expressive and emotional guitar leads. ‘Inure’ instead throws the proverbial kitchen sink at us, as a last reminder to us of what they are capable of. It is far and away the most ambitious composition on the album, delivering a little taste of everything that has gone before, from quiet and introspective synth-led sections, right through to bursts of aggressive extreme metal, complete with double pedal drumming and guttural vocals. And yet, as with the entirety of this album, Until Rain manage to pull it all together in an homogenous and cohesive listening experience.
As you can probably tell, I am rather smitten by this album. It has come out of nowhere to provide one of the biggest surprises of the year so far. If you are open-minded, like a challenge and enjoy deep, involved music, then ‘Inure’ by Until Rain comes with the highest of recommendations from me.
The Score of Much Metal: 9.25
If you’ve enjoyed this review, you can check out my others from previous years and for 2017 right here:
MindMaze – Resolve
God Dethroned – The World Ablaze
Bjorn Riis – Forever Comes To An End
Voyager – Ghost Mile
Big Big Train – Grimspound
Lonely Robot – The Big Dream
Firespawn – The Reprobate
Pyramaze – Contingent
Shores Of Null – Black Drapes For Tomorrow
Asira – Efference
Hologram Earth – Black Cell Program
Damnations Day – A World Awakens
Memoriam – For The Fallen
Pallbearer – Heartless
Sleepmakeswaves – Made of Breath Only
Ghost Ship Octavius – Ghost Ship Octavius
Vangough – Warpaint
Telepathy – Tempest
Obituary – Obituary
Fen – Winter
Havok – Conformicide
Wolfheart – Tyhjyys
Svart Crown – Abreaction
Nova Collective – The Further Side
Immolation – Atonement
The Mute Gods – Tardigrades Will Inherit The Earth
Ex Deo – The Immortal Wars
Pyogenesis – A Kingdom To Disappear
My Soliloquy – Engines of Gravity
Nailed To Obscurity – King Delusion
Helion Prime – Helion Prime
Battle Beast – Bringer Of Pain
Persefone – Aathma
Soen – Lykaia
Exquirla – Para Quienes Aun Viven
Odd Logic – Effigy
Mors Principium Est – Embers Of A Dying World
Firewind – Immortals
Slyde – Back Again EP
Sepultura – Machine Messiah
Deserted Fear – Dead Shores Rising
Kreator – Gods Of Violence
Borealis – World of Silence MMXVII
Pain of Salvation – In The Passing Light of Day