Fireworks

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Next To None - 'Phases' Hot

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Written by Central Electronic Brain     January 21, 2018    
 
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There's much more to be impressed by than there is to enjoy.

With their 'A Light In The Dark' debut, Progressive Metallers Next To None became known for one primary feature; that drummer Max Portnoy's father was a certain blue-bearded guy called Mike. Dad produced the album too, allowing those of a more cynical bent to cast aspersions. For their second album, Next To None have gone to great pains to emphasise that every note and every word on 'Phases' is theirs and theirs alone. They even produced the thing, and that it sounds stunning is to their immense credit.

Nevertheless guys, calm down, will you? Well no, they won't, for Next To None have numerous, plentiful strings to their bow and you're going hear each and every one, and all before the first full track has stopped spinning. The short introduction, '13', sounds more like some alien craft stirring up its engines before a beautiful, plaintive piano piece takes over. However, as 'Answer Me' kicks in, a gargantuan riff is brought into being along with piano that roams wherever it dares, thunderous blasting drums and a Death Metal yelp – the first words proper being "ffffffffffffffuck you!". From there, things settle into all sorts of crazy, nasally vocals from Thomas Cucé bringing a strangely Alt Rock whine. With electronics and synths punctuating proceedings, all we need to prove that sometimes more is too much is some DJ scratching and, of course, we get that too.

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Surely with that out of their system they can start focusing on putting together some decent songs and reining in the need to continually shout "look what else we can do"? The returning answer being no, whether through the zany 'The Apple', uncompromisingly angry 'Beg' or, well, uncompromisingly angry 'Pause', the Next To None attack remains resolute in its "if we can do it, we bloody well will" approach. Bands like Periphery or The Contortionist get away with this stuff because they know when to, at least for a moment, pull back and draw you in, before hitting harder with their next assault. It's something that 'Phases' only reveals on the nineteen minute closer, 'The Wanderer', but by then fatigue has set in and interest has been lost.

I hope this album really is one of those 'Phases' Next To None need to go through because the talent on display is astonishing. For now though, there's much more to be impressed by than there is to enjoy.

Steven Reid

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