Vital Science – Imaginations On The Subject Of Infinity
Reviewed by Christopher Foley
Vital Science bears all the hallmarks of your atypical Scandinavian progressive metal outfit. You know, the likes of Circus Maximus, Illusion Suite, and Oceans Of Time (to name but a few). What I’ve found odd, though, is that despite peddling a sound which on the surface is commonplace these days; Vital Science manages to bring something strangely fresh to the table. This is something I feel I’ve pegged down, although it could well be a plant by Vital Science’s aural tentacles, which by now have plunged deep and scrambled my brains.
There are a fair few elements that Vital Science offers which will be familiar to anyone with slight knowledge of the genre. A foundation of Dream Theater, a generous lavishing of Symphony X; essentially the Circus Maximus formula, although try adding a sprinkling from the more aggressive rack. Yeah, let’s take a pinch of Control Denied, a few drops from Future’s End; and don’t forget a spot of Nevermore. It’s in the deft inclusion of the heavier end of the progressive metal spectrum where Vital Science begins to find itself crawling out from beneath the “average” atypical sound, and from the realms of melodic prog; strangely enough, I feel that the album flows in that sense.
The first couple of tracks are without doubt friendly in their utilization: Alexey Boykov’s smooth, Russell Allen-meets-Mark Basile vocal styling is enticing, and when painted over a symphonic backdrop eases you into Imaginations On The Subject Of Infinity. As such, the first song proper, “Bridge Of Sorrow”, flows by as a solid piece, one well-written although lacking in fire. It houses that comforting familiarity – much like you’d feel kicking back in your living room. The following number delivers more in the way of the heavy, as well as that of technicality and, well, prog. It’s that chill running up your spine, or a growth beginning to fester. It’s at this point that Vital Science begins to kick up the excitement.
Riffs that, dare I say, come across as unconventional given the progressive power style, begin to rear their heads. Like spiders or other unwelcome guests seeking to compromise the comfort in the aforementioned living room, clamoring through the cracks in a wall, or the gap under a door. It’s here that Vital Science shows that its really pretty damn bad-ass. These are riffs and rhythms that you’re going to want to headbang to; boasting infectious groove, and even some of the more “evil” sounding chord progressions and scales I’ve heard lately. Mixing in the darker, heavier textures with the more pristine, melodic prog conventions makes for an involving listen. In fact, speaking of darker and heavier texture, at times Vital Science spring the likes of Adagio and To-Mera to mind; especially so when considering technicality.
As the album continues to progress, so does the band. With each track it feel that Vital Science opens up a little more, stretching the boundaries of their sound a little wider. To the point where some of the music recalls that of (modern) technical death metal, although (and this is something that I can’t stress enough) this resemblance comes in terms of musical prowess and note progression, as opposed to production or tonality. The last half of the album is seriously cool nonetheless, and seeks to catapult Vital Science from the realm of “good band” to that of a great one.
In a way, I guess Vital Science amalgamate a considerable amount of what I’ve enjoyed from progressive metal on the whole over the last decade or two. I could write a scary long list of bands that Vital Science springs to mind at any one point throughout the album – and trust me it would extend far – but I feel Imaginations On The Subject Of Infinity deserves more than that. Instead, let’s just say that the band manages to evoke varying shades of atmosphere, and proudly covets an arsenal of sharp hooks, deft songwriting tricks, heavy hitting riffs, and enough in the way flamboyant technicality to ruin many a mind.
4 // 5