Abaddon magazine

Music magazine

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Review: Phase Transition – Relatively Speaking

Label: Self released

Date: December 7th, 2020

Here’s a pleasant surprise from Portugal. A new and exciting progressive metal act, coming to us from the ocean-side. Porto, to be exact. A quartet that actually brings some progressive ideas to the genre, instead of using it to show off the individual skills.

Now, you do expect some things out of the band that presents themselves as progressive metal. There needs to exist a masterful handling of instruments. Uneven and broken rhythms, guitar extravaganza, thoughtfulness on the bass guitar, complex lyrical themes… Phase Transition honored all of them on their debut EP.

But that is not what makes this release stand out in my book. I’ve never been a big fan of such tendencies in music anyway. Furthermore, it is a rare occasion when the mentioned elements are successfully implemented into the whole. The Portuguese are actually looking to add their own touches to the existing pattern. Or lack thereof. We are talking about progressive metal, after all.

“Relatively Speaking” bears the unmistakable “Metropolis” vibe comprising the basis of the overall soundscape. However, Phase Transition obviously adds elements of their classical music upbringing and education. Be it in form of actual classical music touches, implementation of jazzy overtures or the gothic tendencies. The best example is the closing, twelve minutes long, “Sand & Sea” that combines all of them together. Acoustic passages accompanied by the tender violin notes and subtle samples present the neoclassical formation of musicians themselves. The middle section of the track take you to flamenco styled jazz improvisation, while the whole EP delivers gothic metal “in the back of its mind”. Of course, mostly due to the vocals which are light as a feather. Abundant use of violin also doesn’t hurt.

Speaking (relatively) about these vocals, Sofia has a delightful voice. As I said, very light, soft, though she can rough it up a bit (just a bit) when the opportunity arises, proving she feels music very well. However, somehow it doesn’t quite fit to my ear alongside the music that accompanies it. Also, focusing on compositions themselves, I find this EP not quite formulated enough. What I mean is that there is the firm basis and there is a pile of fresh, even original, ideas laying around the original musical concept. Yet, it sounds to me as if they are not blended completely. To use a culinary metaphor, there are still big chunks of fruit not chopped enough to get into the overall flavor. Still, this being Phase Transition’s debut, I believe the quartet is well aware of these shortcomings and are already working on making it better the next time around.

All that being said, Phase Transition still did one hell of a job on “Relatively Speaking”. It is obvious they have all it takes to make something of themselves. This is a release that, with proper care, can become the root of something extraordinary to come. I’m keeping my fingers crossed. Well done!