So I’ve been waiting to share this album with my readers for a long time. Asking Redditors for some suggestions to the site, I was given several bands to check out, some to my liking and some not. Hopping back on my computer with a handful of recommendations, there was one band in particular that stood out to me, being Native Construct, a progressive metal band from Boston, MA. These metalheads have one impressive resume, which includes attendance at Berklee College of Music and signing to the major record label Metal Blade Records. It took just one listen to their debut album “Quiet World” for them to hook me. I have literally been playing this record every day since, and I feel you all should follow my lead.
Students Myles Yang, Robert Edens, and Max Harchik started Native Construct back in 2011 without knowing how their little jam band would impact the progressive music scene. Considering their extensive knowledge in music theory, all three have contributed an array of musical styles, ranging from traditional metal, to jazz, classical and musical theater. Their album “Quiet World” is the epitome of a self-produced album, with the majority of writing, rehearsing, recording, and producing taking place during their busy school schedule. With the amazing quality of this album, it is hard for me to imagine devoting so much time and effort into a hobby, and to see such a successful result. I applaud these three for this alone, considering the energy and devotion needed to make this work.
The album itself follows an interesting concept, a fantasy that is relatable to all the social outcasts out there. With a large backstory and an even more complex plot throughout the album, I will not attempt to explain the story here, but will say it’s an album of unrequited love, anger, isolation, schizophrenia, and conflict. The greatest part about this concept is despite its density, the story is actually fairly easy to follow, making the listening experience even more enjoyable. I love the use of clean and dirty vocals, along with sound manipulation over certain vocal sections to convey the tone of each scene. The vocal delivery is perfect, coming across with the same power as a physical scene in a Broadway play. The theatrics of “Quiet World” may repel some listeners with its melodramatic display, but acts as an opportunity for these three undeniably talented musicians to thrive.
Listening to “Quiet World,” the listener can appreciate the musical understanding of the band within the opening minutes. Native Construct uses complicated guitar and drum arrangements, drastic time signature changes, and numerous additional instruments on top of what’s standard, much like Between the Buried and Me’s “The Parallax II.” With each song and section within, the transitions are seamless, each note as important as the last, and as meaningful as every other note in the album. I was often thrown off by the presence of violins, flutes, synthesizers, saxophones (was that an electric saxophone in “Passage”?) and numerous others, instruments I wish to hear more of in progressive metal albums. The use of 8-string electric guitars are felt with the booming low chords and wailing solos, reminiscent of songs by Animals as Leaders. I also love the heavy presence of music box-sounding tones, which is evidenced on the album cover. It is used mainly as transitions between songs, but also adds a creepy atmosphere, especially in the intro of the song “Passage.” I didn’t know music boxes hit minor notes, or at least I’ve never heard one as sinister sounding as the one on “Quiet World.” (Children beware; there’s no ballerina inside this music box.) The album title is ironic, considering the abundance of sound that emits from it. Reading this section makes the album sound absolutely chaotic, but what’s chaotic is how well it works!
As for the individual songs themselves, each serve themselves and the greater purpose of providing memorable progressive music. I’ve gone for days humming instrumental sections and passionate vocal choruses, only to have them replaced with different sections on the same album days later. Let’s just say my house hasn’t been a “quiet world” for some time. Some of my favorite moments include the aforementioned saxophone solo in “Passage,” the manipulated vocals in “Your Familiar Face,” the juxtaposition of heavy chords and the acoustic guitar/violin duet in “Come Hell Or High Water,” and the funk bass lines halfway through the epic closer “Chromatic Aberration.” There are plenty more unique and interesting moments in “Quiet World,” and I’d love to hear your favorites as well.
“Quiet World” is a masterpiece, at least in my book. With so little to criticize, I believe Native Construct must be heard by fans of progressive rock and metal. You can support them by checking out their Bandcamp page, or by following them on Facebook for updates and announcements. They are currently preparing their tour across Europe with Between the Buried and Me, a perfect counterpart for their long distance voyage. In the meantime, I’ll sit here quietly awaiting their follow-up album.