Quantum – The Next Breath Of Air – EP Review

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Artist: Quantum

Album Title: The Next Breath Of Air

Label: Independent Release

Date of Release: 12 June 2020

Progressive music fans, if you’re wanting to sink your teeth into a new band, then I have a recommendation for you. The band are called Quantum and they hail from that music backwater otherwise known as Sweden. I mean, can you name any decent acts from the Scandinavian country? Ok, aside from Evergrey, Katatonia, Sorcerer, Dark Tranquillity, Pain Of Salvation and a thousand other great bands that is? No, I didn’t think so.

Of course I am joking, but what isn’t a laughing matter, is ‘The Next Breath Of Air’, the debut EP from Quantum, a quartet hailing from Stockholm. Over the course of four tracks, this young band demonstrate just how talented they are and what a bright future they have in store for themselves if they continue to work hard at their craft. I need to declare that, at this point, ‘The Next Breath Of Air’ is only available digitally. I enquired of the band whether those old-school music lovers like me, who like to hold a physical copy, will get that opportunity. The answer was ‘it is under discussion’ and ‘it is something we’d like to do’, so watch this space. Nevertheless, I feel sufficiently enthused by the music to write a review regardless of this slight disappointment.

Quantum are comprised of bassist/vocalist Anton Ericsson, guitarists Oscar Lundin and Samuel Walfridsson, and drummer Marcus Lundberg, although this somewhat oversimplifies things as will become clear later.

What I really like about this release is that it strongly suggests we have an artist in our midst that is prepared to offer something just a little bit different, something original. I’ll be the first to admit that there are echoes of many bands, and various reference points littering the music. But ultimately, and crucially, the final product feels different. Throughout, there are many varied influences at play, many different approaches. One minute we’re listening to something whimsical, introspective or quiet. The next, we get bold sounds, be they a strong metallic riff or a powerful drum beat. But underpinning everything is a satisfying level of intricacy and complexity delivered with deft smoothness and a firm understanding of melody, impressive given the young age of the musicians involved.

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Credit: Malin Åkesson

The EP begins with ‘Slipped’ and there’s possibly no better example of the strengths of Quantum. It opens with some flamboyant bass work from Ericsson before being joined by drums and guitars, only to open up into a complex jazzy rhythm complete with heavy guitars and clever drumming. The guitars make a greater impact to my mind, because they come and go throughout the song, whilst synths become more prominent as things develop, adding yet more richness and texture to the song. Despite being technically adept, there’s a warmth to the music, aided by some disarming melodies, definite groove, and a great vocal performance from Ericsson. Even when things get decidedly chaotic towards the end with wailing guitars, there remains an accessibility that pulls me back for repeated listens.

Next up is the song that hooked me in the first place, the title track. The reasons why it resonated with me are many but it’s a combination of the blend of styles, the melodies, deep lyrics, and the sheer variety on offer within the near eight minutes. Thanks to backing vocals from Marcus Lundberg, I get an almost psychedelic 60s/70s prog vibe, despite occasions where the riffing is undeniably from the metal realm, and the ‘chorus’ is catchy as hell. But the mid-way point marks a change that’s incredibly intriguing. The pace slows and the soundscape is much more dreamlike and gentle, with the addition of a cello courtesy of Erik Elvkull, poignant slide guitar and acoustic guitars; it’s just so beautiful and in stark contrast to the heavy riffing and crashing drums that bookmark the foray into quieter territory, albeit only very briefly at the death.

‘Dissonance’ is a bruising track, complete with suitably aggressive vocals and, as the name suggests, the occasional meander or two into more dissonant territory which doesn’t sound forced or contrived. The track features guest appearances from two further guitarists, namely Tim Forslund who adds a solo, and Fredrik Reinholdsen who plays the seven-string guitar. However, again, it isn’t all blood and thunder thanks to the insertion of more synths and strings, as well as a deceptively smooth transition between aggression and introspection.

The final track is entitled ‘Blank’ and this is where the echoes of yesteryear loom large. It is a song dominated by acoustic guitars, both gently and more urgently delivered as the pace increases nicely in the mid-section. But the acoustic heart doesn’t mean that there isn’t room for some striking lead guitar work and strong bass lines, which are both present and correct throughout. If I’m honest, it’s my least favourite song on the EP but that’s only because the other tracks simply resonate with me more.

So there you have it. If you’re after some intelligent and original-sounding progressive rock that also nods to the past, I suggest you give Quantum a try. Bearing in mind the age of the musicians, the mind boggles at what they might give us when a debut full-length is unleashed. I can’t wait, but for now, I’m keen to enjoy ‘The Next Breath Of Air’ because even now, I suspect there are tons of things I have yet to discover within it.

The Score of Much Metal: 90%

Check out my reviews from 2020 right here:

Ensiferum – Thalassic
Long Distance Calling – How Do We Want To Live?
Airbag – A Day At The Beach
Re-Armed – Ignis Aeternum
Atavist – III: Absolution
Frost* – Others EP
Darker Half – If You Only Knew
Atavistia – The Winter Way
Astralborne – Eternity’s End
Centinex – Death In Pieces
Haken – Virus
Pile Of Priests – Pile Of Priests
Sorcerer – Lamenting Of The Innocent
Lesoir – Mosaic
Temnein – Tales: Of Humanity And Greed
Caligula’s Horse – Rise Radiant
…And Oceans – Cosmic World Mother
Vader – Solitude In Madness
Shrapnel – Palace For The Insane
Sinisthra – The Broad And Beaten Way
Paradise Lost – Obsidian
Naglfar – Cerecloth
Forgotten Tomb – Nihilistic Estrangement
Winterfylleth – The Reckoning Dawn
Firewind – Firewind
An Autumn For Crippled Children – All Fell Silent, Everything Went Quiet
Havok – V
Helfró – Helfró
Victoria K – Essentia
Cryptex – Once Upon A Time
Thy Despair – The Song Of Desolation
Cirith Ungol – Forever Black
Igorrr – Spirituality and Distortion
Nightwish – Human. II: Nature.
Katatonia – City Burials
Wolfheart – Wolves Of Karelia
Asenblut – Die Wilde Jagd
Nicumo – Inertia
The Black Dahlia Murder – Verminous
Omega Infinity – Solar Spectre
Symbolik – Emergence
Pure Reason Revolution – Eupnea
Irist – Order Of The Mind
Testament – Titans Of Creation
Ilium – Carcinogeist
Dawn Of Ouroboros – The Art Of Morphology
Torchia – The Coven
Novena – Eleventh Hour
Ashes Of Life – Seasons Within
Dynazty – The Dark Delight
Sutrah – Aletheia EP
Welicoruss – Siberian Heathen Horde
Myth Of I – Myth Of I
My Dying Bride – The Ghost Of Orion
Infirmum – Walls Of Sorrow
Inno – The Rain Under
Kvaen – The Funeral Pyre
Mindtech – Omnipresence
Dark Fortress – Spectres From The Old World
The Oneira – Injection
Night Crowned – Impius Viam
Dead Serenity – Beginnings EP
The Night Flight Orchestra – Aeromantic
Deadrisen – Deadrisen
Blaze Of Perdition – The Harrowing Of Hearts
Godsticks – Inescapable
Isle Of The Cross – Excelsis
Demons & Wizards – III
Vredehammer – Viperous
H.E.A.T – H.E.A.T II
Psychotic Waltz – The God-Shaped Void
Into The Open – Destination Eternity
Lunarsea – Earthling/Terrestre
Pure Wrath – The Forlorn Soldier EP
Sylosis – Cycle of Suffering
Sepultura – Quadra
Dyscordia – Delete / Rewrite
Godthrymm – Reflections
On Thorns I Lay – Threnos
God Dethroned – Illuminati
Fragment Soul – A Soul Inhabiting Two Bodies
Mariana Semkina – Sleepwalking
Mini Album Reviews: Moloken, The Driftwood Sign & Midnight
Serenity – The Last Knight
Ihsahn – Telemark EP
Temperance – Viridian
Blasphemer – The Sixth Hour
Deathwhite – Grave Image
Marko Hietala – Pyre Of The Black Heart
SWMM – Trail Of The Fallen
Into Pandemonium – Darkest Rise EP
Bonded – Rest In Violence
Serious Black – Suite 226
Darktribe – Voici L’Homme
Brothers Of Metal – Emblas Saga
A Life Divided – Echoes
Thoughts Factory – Elements

You can also check out my other reviews from previous years right here:

2019 reviews
2018 reviews
2017 reviews
2016 reviews
2015 reviews

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