Artifex Pereo


Written by: TL on 22/10/2016 13:23:06

A record that's gotten a bit lost in a flurry of notable releases that's come out this past couple of months, is "Passengers", the third album from Kentucky prog rockers Artifex Pereo. Those familiar with the band's work in the past know the sextet as a group you make note of mainly because of the level of detail and complexity in their soundscape, perhaps more so than for such things as 'hit' songs or an unmistakable personal style, and by all accounts "Passengers" seems to only fortify this impression.

In terms of references, Artifex Pereo sound most of all like California's I The Mighty, in part due to the similarity in the singing style of frontman Lucas Worley and ITM's Brent Walsh, but AP are noticeably more committed to being progressive. Not that there are not sensible structures to the songs on "Passengers", there are, with choruses and everything, but the individual parts and the way they segue into each other, are jam-packed with notes and layers to the point where it's near impossible to keep up.

This is at the same time the band's strength and weakness. You hear the high level of musicianship very blatantly on display, literally all the time, yet simultaneously, it gets to feeling like everything is a flourish while it's harder to discern what are actual signatures. Add a sort of constantly restless pacing to the equation, and listening to an Artifex Pereo record is sort of like trying to enjoy an unfamiliar landscape while riding a roller coaster - something that was true of the prior album "Time In Place", and is still true, and has lost its novelty somewhat here on "Passengers".

The same double-edged nature characterizes the production, which on one hand is stunningly well mixed, allowing you to perfectly make out the separate guitars as well as the intricate drum patterns and ambient lingerings from both piano and organ keys. Yet, on the other hand, it sounds so neat that it's hard to connect what you're hearing with imaginations of a band playing and performing it in a real, physical space. It feels like you're listening to music that exists in a vacuum, and combined with the aforementioned restless pacing, there isn't really the draw that the band has likely hoped for, for the listener to pay a deeper interest to the conceptual lyrics.

Perhaps coincidentally, it's the tracks with the hardest elements in them that end up standing out the most, perhaps because they lend welcome measures of dynamics to the band's otherwise smoothly interwoven style, where technical shifts are so frequent that they actually blur together. "Paper Ruled All" has an aggressive, chunky riff to start that strikes the ear noticeably and the chorus is quite recognizable as well, and later on, the sharp turn into muscular riffage and screaming at the end of "Enterprise of Empire" has a similarly rousing effect.

Sadly, after another full round in the ring with an Artifex Pereo record, the lingering notion is that the band - despite the overtness of their technical wizardry - is losing its novelty somewhat. The record feels like the group has mainly been concerned with crafting a homogenous sequel to their concept story (no spoilers), which has prevented them from renewing themselves noticeably, and which means that they still have trouble standing out from the genre style-wise and still have trouble writing songs that stick in the mind once the initial "wow" factor has gone over.

Download: Paper Ruled All, Enterprise Of Empire
For The Fans Of: I The Mighty, Coheed And Cambria, Closure In Moscow, Icarus The Owl

Release date 09.09.2016
Tooth And Nail Records

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