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(43:27, ‘Scanning Antarctica’)
TRACK LIST: 1. Thief 7:11 2. When Dead Letters Change 6:02 3. Everything 4:34 4. Rust on the Rust 5:20 5. In the Fortress 8:42 6. None to Harm 11:38 LINEUP: Peter Turpin – guitars Jeff Crocker – vocals Jason Berube – bass Cameron Deane – drums
Prolusion. SCANNING ANTARCTICA, from the United States, is a fairly new band that appears to have solidified sometime in 2014, featuring members with a past in power metal band A Shattered Dream. "Bipolar Winter" is their debut album, self-released in 2014.
Analysis. Scanning Antarctica is one of those bands that appear to reside on the borders of a number of different styles of music, dipping their toes into some of this and some of that as they explore whatever territories they feel they have a need to journey into. In this case most of the turf resides somewhere in the metal universe, but also with side trips into more progressive waters at times. Apart from the more cinematic, atmospheric creation Everything, this is an album that features compositions that alternate between a fairly set number of styles. Their main expertise appears to be smooth transitions between powerful riff based heavy metal arrangements, alternative metal runs and thrash metal-oriented passages, the guitars leading the way and dominating the soundscapes rather thoroughly. Gentler interludes with plucked guitars have their place here, as do classic chugging riffs in the style of Metallica, and especially in the final half of the album we're also treated to melodic but majestic progressive metal forays that have some rather distinct similarities to the US band Brave, if anyone recalls that band these days. The concluding two tracks are in particular impressive in their ambitions to incorporate sections with more of a progressive metal intent, with In the Fortress in particular a track that might interest those with a soft spot for progressive metal. It is another band that comes to mind when listening to this album however. Partially due to the vocals I guess, as the alternating singing and talk-like delivery is one that, for me, makes Mike Patton an instant association, especially on second track When Dead Letters Change. The compositions have something of that quirky character that Faith No More used to have as well, although Scanning Antarctica obviously has taken this spirit and approach and run it through a filter to metallize it quite a bit. Mix and production are a slight letdown on this album however; the sound comes across as somewhat closed in, and the vocals have a tendency to be hidden in the mix. The vocals themselves, at least in regular singing mode, also come across as a slight weakness: either due to mix or delivery, they do sound somewhat thin at times, and on occasion I did find the choice of pitch and tone to be not quite optimal according to my tastes.
Conclusion. While Scanning Antarctica hasn't made what I'd describe as a purebred progressive metal album with "Bipolar Winter", I'd describe this production as a fairly sophisticated brand of metal that also finds its way into progressive metal territories on occasion. A production that merits a check by those who like their metal well developed and fairly complex in approach and spirit, and who feels right at home with a band of this type incorporating progressive metal tendencies into their relatively quirky exploits.
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