Throughout the history of music, there have been distinct periods when one genre clearly dominated, whether it was progressive rock in the late 70s, hair metal in the mid 80s, grunge at the beginning of the 90s or nu-metal at the turn of the Millennium. More recently, the musical spectrum has continued to innovate, often leading to bands taking two completely separate ideas, merging them, and coming up with a whole new beast. Enter COSMIC ORDERthe Norman trio which puts prog-grunge in the spotlight on its first album, inner temple.
Beginning with a gargantuan and hazy intro, it immediately becomes clear that COSMIC ORDER are fervent purveyors of riffs. This openness to 8:16 is soon joined by thundering drums and Josh Man-esque vocal and for a moment, it’s hard to believe that such a staggering noise can be made by just three people. During this time, cross the line boasts an infectious, instant riff that sinks its hooks — good luck standing still as this monolithic verse kicks into high gear, and doesn’t even launch us on the overwhelming, out-of-this-world outro.
The stellar opening continues with Better life which shows the best cross-section of what COSMIC ORDER are capable of, especially when it comes to vocal performances. Mixing crooning blues and gruff and grunge tones reminiscent of CHAINED ALICE with harsh screams that cut through your very psyche, it’s a powerful combination executed on a monumental level.
another sun sees the band tap into another gear and show they can do more than just great anthemic songs – a smooth, lush ballad that evokes everything PEARL JAM at TYPE O NEGATIVE. It’s a gothic, grunge delight, and an amazing snapshot of how various influences put in the melting pot can produce something quite special.
As we reach the middle of the album, a few cracks start to appear: H+ features some bizarre production choices that ultimately add nothing at all, namely an admittedly great solo that’s played entirely in the right channel, and just feels static and threaded. The last track of the album Advanced dreams and representations ends so abruptly that questions have to be asked about sequencing considerations when putting these 12 songs together.
Elsewhere, the songs lack real reward: Memento Mori opens like a very WOLF-like a number, but beyond that it simply falls into pedestrian, muffled verses that are so at odds with the proggy, textured opening and slick instrumental fills littered throughout that it seems like two songs have been broken together. Attack of the Old Witch becomes repetitive in an incredibly short period of time, and Please) is perhaps the clearest example of trying something new that should perhaps be left alone.
In all, inner temple writes a check that he cannot cash. Storming out with an impeccably solid first half, but eventually fading in the final run, there is a strange paradox in which the problems seem to be that COSMIC ORDER try to do too much, but don’t have enough new ideas. However, for a first feature, there is great promise on display and if COSMIC ORDER are able to limit their reach a bit, or at least hone in on what really makes them click, there is no doubt that they can produce something extraordinary.
Inner Temple is available now through Argonauta Records.
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