Calyces – Impulse to Soar
“Impulse to Soar” is the debut full-length album of Greek progressive sludge metal group, Calyces. This group was created and led by frontman Manthos Stergiou, who is responsible for the lead vocals, guitar, synths, and songwriting on this record. Prior to the formation of this musical creation was Manthos’ first band, Tardive Dyskinesia, who are currently on indefinite hiatus following 15 consecutive years of activity. After releasing 4 full-length albums with his first act, it was time to start fresh with a new record that came to be known as “Impulse to Soar”.
The album starts off right away with a sludgy prog riff, followed shortly by Manthos’ aggressive vocals, giving an overall feel reminiscent to Intronaut’s own unique sound. Then his cleans come in layering over a catchy chorus, which immediately reminds me of the style of Pierre St-Jean’s vocals (Heaven’s Cry). Already quite an interesting hybrid right there, while not a combination of bands that many would think might work, Calyces pull it off really well. And the production on top of it suits this style; clean, yet raw-sounding guitars, aggressive bass, and natural-sounding, punchy drums.
Now we’re onto their first single, ‘Ego Dries Up the Ocean’. This track also happens to be my favourite on the album. Great riffing, proggy, heavy, awesome drumming by Alex Stavropoulos, and overall just a fantastic piece of music. The tonality on this track leans a little more on the post-metal direction of bands like The Ocean (how ironic), plus a middle section that calms down a bit with an early-Opeth-like sound. The mixture of influences are quite clear here, but nonetheless, they hold a steady sound that gives them enough distance from having any form of an identity crisis.
Calyces – Ego Dries Up the Ocean (click here if the video does not play)
A couple of tracks down, you start to get a good grasp of what’s happening and the idea they’re going for. They balance it very well however, making this debut record an engaging and enjoyable listen. The performances on this record are far from flashy, which this style of metal music usually doesn’t require. But that doesn’t mean the band isn’t technically impressive. There are plenty of odd time signatures and tempo changes across the album that prove enough how tight these players are. And for a debut release, it’s very strong.
We are reaching their second single, ‘The Great Void’, which happens to be one of their catchiest tracks. This, and the first single, were good choices in representing both aspects of the record without spoiling too much of what’s to offer. Simple, catchy, and fun.
Calyces – The Great Void (click here if the video does not play)
Entering the latter half of the album, there are two other tracks that really shine more potential from these guys. ‘Unfair Labor’, being the longest track on the record, and is the third single to be released prior to the album launch, has a saxophone solo during the instrumental section by Jørgen Munkeby (Shining), and it just sounds absolutely beautiful. Then the transition into ‘Home’, being a short yet quick and heavy song, will really pull the listener back in. Not to mention this later-Opeth-like section that just pops out of nowhere and guarantees a good headbanging.
The album closes with not only one, but two instrumental tracks; both of which are also bonus tracks. While this can be considered an unusual direction, the final song is a short acoustic ballad, so they feel like separate songs. Doing this continues to balance the listening experience quite well… aside from the random burp leading into the beginning of the track’s performance, but I guess that was meant to work with the vibe they were going for.
Overall, this record is a great listen with strong performances, many highlights, little flaws, and is a very well-balanced experience. While not particularly a lot of outstanding moments, the album keeps hold of a sound that works and maintains quality. “Impulse to Soar” brings memorable songwriting with a unique range of influences that will have curious listeners guessing. And as a debut release, the potential shines brightly.
- False Awakening 06:25
- Ego Dries Up the Ocean 06:23
- Those Flames are Dancing Wild 05:04
- Parasites 05:32
- The Great Void 04:06
- Wired Crown 04:32
- Unfair Labor 07:19
- Home 03:25
- Beyond Sight 05:34
- Uneven Loops (Bonus Track) 06:39
- We’re Lost, but it’s ok (Bonus Track) 03:13