There's something to be said for putting a strong first foot in the door. Sometimes the hardest part is getting past that initial impression. If you can make a strong statement immediately, you'll no doubt have people listening to see what's next. French exports Asidefromaday know this, and their debut Divine Proportion starts off absolutely flawlessly.
How, you ask? The first track is an instrumental track, in which the intensity rises, and rises, and rises, and as you're waiting for the vocals, the song simply ends. But it doesn't matter. By this time, you have already made up your mind the band was going to rule. Heavy, quick, and complex, "Phi" did nothing but make you thoroughly anticipate when the vocals would come in. You had already imagined just what they'd sound like, most likely a healthy mix of Botch and Converge. Exactly one minute into "Engine," all your notions turn out to be correct; the vocals are absolutely stellar. Throaty and intense, you listen as the vocal cords shred as the songs unfold, but you don't care, you're just lost in the intensity of it all. Intensity is 80% of the album; it's searing with it. The guitars rage in complex patterns and stop on a dime, and you're loving every second.
And the news just keeps getting better for you; the intensity only picks up as the album moves on, the arrangements only become more chaotic, and the drumming more tribal sounding in its lesser intense moments. Pounding rhythmically, you wait patiently until things pick back up again, and when they do, it's louder than you even thought possible.
You're blown away by the sheer passion in "At Dinner With Henry Ford," and taken aback by the conviction and unwavering force in the vocals, impressed at how sound the entire package is, how fluidly the band moves between the hard and soft dynamics, impressed at the instrumentation of every single member in the band and how cohesively they work together. Even the instrumental blitzkrieg of "Humano Mantica" threatens to knock you clear off your seat, vocals or not; the band is absolutely relentless and even more technically fluid. No doubts reside in your mind about this band being the complete package, the French equivalent to Converge. Everything that makes them tick is present in this band, sheer tenacity to technical prowess and a great gift for songwriting -- they have all the tools.
As impressive as anything is the band's ability to close out the album. You were hooked to this point, but the title track "Divine Proportion" just furthers what you had been thinking all along. It's a realization that a promising effort can succinctly and solidly close the door. It may come in quietly, and go out quietly, but you're loving the noise it brings in between, low on vocals, high on shredding -- it's everything a closer should put out there. The pounding of the drums is echoing in your head while the vocals get drilled directly into your ears, and every moment is better than the last.
Now that I can stop speaking in the second person, I can do nothing else but recommend this to you. Cheesy name? Yeah. Stereotypically wimpy nationality? Yeah. But if these guys can do one thing, it's bring it. If Converge were born in Paris they would be this band. Maybe not as prolific as the Boston natives, but rest assured that this band will be going places.