Last month we were contacted by a band we’d never heard of before, Charlotte North Carolina’s S.I.Q. or Society In Question as they had just released their debut album “A Constant Struggle” and asked us to review it. Honestly, you just never know what to expect with unknown bands, some are good, some are just okay (just my opinion of course) but every once in a while one comes along that blows you away with some really amazing music and is just charting their own path in the sonic landscape. S.I.Q. is definitely one of those bands, a group that has many influences but combines them into a unique and very exciting brand of intelligent and powerful progressive metal.
The band lists a large array of influences from the prog metal world including the usual suspects Dream Theater and Symphony X but also some of the great modern bands like Andromeda and Circus Maximus (two of this reviewer’s favorite Euro-prog metal bands). But what really sets the band apart is that they filter their sound through a very modern stark and aggressive attitude that comes straight out of some of the other bands they love, primarily Tool and Alice In Chains. For this reviewer that’s just golden as there aren’t too many groups out there that are cool with both aspects of the prog metal world, both the symphonic and the less ostentatious intensity of Tool.
There really isn’t a weak moment on the entire album as it starts right out with the powerful Tool-like opener, “Riddle of You” (I love drummer Paul Woods’ cool swing section during the opening moments) and then really kicks it in with the aggressive “Slightly Out Of Breath” (again, gotta give drummer Woods a lot of credit for pulling out the very cool Danny Carey Lateralus-style beat near the beginning). But, just when you think you’ve got the band pegged, near the end of the song, they add in a very cool laid-back and kinda heavy fusion jam, complete with singer Ashton Johnston’s alto sax. It really works and is just so goddamn cool! The rest of the album is just fantastic, but I especially like the beautiful, mostly-acoustic ballad “Silver Lining” which could easily be a hit if it got any airplay (if such a thing even exists anymore!) and the powerful epic closer, the three-part suite of songs “’till Life Do Us Part” where guitarist James Nelson really gets to shine.
The band has obviously spent a lot of time crafting their songs and it shows that they care a lot more about impacting their listeners deeply rather than showing off their chops. I just hope they can keep this level of writing beyond their first album. S.I.Q. just recently decided to put their entire debut album on Spotify and you can listen to it via the playlist at the bottom of this review so please give them a listen and let us know what you think!
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