Sianvar’s five-song eponymously titled EP features some of the more innovative progressive metal I’ve heard in a while. Suffused with time-changes, texture out the wazoo, and more mood-swings than a sorority at the end of the birth control cycle, Sianvar capably manages to make what has all the elements of a train wreck into a fine collection of tight tracks.
As “Chest Pressure” opens, the tone of the collection is both set and defied. It takes nearly a full minute for the heavy metal elements of Sianvar to emerge. Feeling both derivative and innovative, Sianvar brings serious chops and creative genius to bear and by the end of “Chest Pressure,” well… if you don’t love this band, you don’t love guitar virtuoso heavy metal.
Following up that massive introduction, “Sick Machine” has all the elements of a nu metal tour de force except the keyboards and rap. This is solid guitar, bass and drums metal and Sianvar carries it off very well.
The guitar riffage opening “Your Tongue Ties” sets the stage perfectly for Donovan Melero’s vocals to unify the whole. Without the lyrics (which don’t really matter) the whole edifice would crash in a mélange of musicians going all jazzically off into their own directions. Those musicians bring the ass-kicking skill set that we associate with the best sort of prog metal, and at times their virtuosity threatens to overwhelm the project. Fortunately, Joe Arrington on drums helps guitarists Will Swan and Sergio Medina and bassist Michael Franzino stay on track to gift us songs like the epic “Your Tongue Ties.”
Bringing the tempo back under control, “Virtual Vain” starts off with some nice slow bits in which Melero gets to carry the band on his voice before the others just flat out assert their talents with traded solos and sonic collisions. “Virtual Vain” alternates between these extremes, from the contemplative singing over classical guitar styling to the head-banging audio mash-up of everyone bringing their A-game at once.
“Substance Sequence” fittingly closes out the set as diversely and skillfully as the rest of the EP, keeping the tone solid, talented and progressive and unfailingly awesome. Every song sounds the same, yet owns its own space and doesn’t sound the same. It’s a tone thing more than a sound thing.
If your idea of heavy metal is simply speed, volume and vocals that sound like a vomiting tiger, Sianvar isn’t for you. If your appreciation of metal has enough room for Rush, Primus, Faith No More, early Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Felix Martin, you are going to LOVE this EP and wish it were an LP.