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TRACK LIST: 1. Ylem 6:37 2. Eventide 3:30 3. Inception 6:05 4. Unripe One 4:45 5. Confinement in Black 6:08 6. Circles 4:22 7. My Replicator 3:18 8. Repentance Hour 5:54 9. Way Down Memory Lane 5:57 10. Redemption 4:48 11. Onset 5:09 LINEUP: Pablo Vilela – guitars; keyboards; vocals Caio Duarte – vocals; keyboards Diogo Mafra – guitars Diego Teixeira – bass Rafael Dantas – drums Jorge Macarrao – percussion
Prolusion. The Brazilian act DYNAHEAD was formed in the fall of 2004, and has since then issued one EP, one DVD and two full-length albums. "YOUniverse" is the most recent of these and was released in the first half of 2011, some three years after their debut effort "Antigen".
Analysis. I remember having a real soft spot for the initial full-length disc by this band, a production that impressed me with its challenging material explored within a tight but expansive framework. Not your typical progressive metal, but rather a darker breed, referencing thrash and hardcore details alongside more common sources of inspiration like Dream Theater, and last but not least, also incorporating calmer passages within their riff-dominated excursions, even incorporating the odd jazz motif on occasion. To some extent "YOUniverse" can also be seen as a direct continuation of their debut effort. It is also a development, showcasing a band that has expanded its musical palette in the past few years. The songs are challenging and diverse, multiple themes are the order of the day, and on most occasions the diversity in stylistic expressions are covered well within each individual composition as well as on the album as a whole. Aggressive, hardcore-tinged dark riff barrages are placed side by side with technical thrash constructions not too far away from what Megadeth used to churn out in their earliest days. Catchy, compact riff-driven exploits with hair metal references but in arrangements that testify to a solid dose of steroids applied have their place here too, and occasionally we're taken into more common-ground progressive metal territory too. Neo-classical guitar soloing and aggressive thrash-oriented varieties are just as common as more subtle melodic overlays, and in between them all there's often room for a dampened display with acoustic or undistorted guitars leading the way in expressions of a more careful nature: Up to and including a nifty bossa nova end sequence found on Way Down Memory Lane. The diversity in expression is a feature with the lead vocals too. Caio Duarte's growls, croaks, and shouts find their way through themes just as often as taking on powerful melodic lead vocals and a dampened, more subtle delivery for the calmer passages, with a fair few instances of layered vocal harmonies to boot. Technically proficient, challenging and diverse progressive metal is a nice and easy summary of this production, albeit not quite as engaging as on the band's initial disc to my ears. The variety in expressions and overall diversity taken on lead to a slight loss of focus perhaps, or maybe just a case of what has been described as "the second album syndrome": A band that recorded well-developed and well-known material for their initial effort, and had to reignite the creative process from scratch for their sophomore release. Be that as it may be, this is a good album even if falling shy of the impressive levels of their initial production.
Conclusion. Progressive metal with a foot placed well inside the thrash metal universe is the name of the game here. The compositions are diverse and fairly challenging and tend to cover multiple themes, motifs and expressions in each and every instance. Well-made and well-produced, and a suggested act to sample for progressive metal fans that tend to like diversity and a variety of stylistic expressions, including ones not commonly found inside the progressive metal universe.
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