Hologram Earth – Black Cell Program
Hard on the heels of Transient State’s “Rearranged” last month, Hologram Earth is yet another young modern prog metal band from the Netherlands to release their debut album. It is called “Black Cell Program” and one look at the musicians involved reveals two familiar names: Bram Heijs (Guitar) and Thomas Cochrane (Bass and also Brass in this case), both play with Transient State as well. So on paper you might expect a similar sound, only to discover a very different beast altogether. The first three songs, arguably also the strongest out of the seven, display that different approach to the songwriting already magnificently. Make no mistake, there is still a lot of Meshuggah-Djent-Core going on, but the delicate Brass arrangements from Mr. Cochrane and some superb lead guitar work courtesy of Steven Hulshof are providing a more atmospheric approach, sometimes even cinematic in scope.
‘Immaculate Conception’ kicks off the album with a memorable off-kilter riff that’s guaranteed to sway the balance of every serious headbanger. The two following titles, ‘Outnumbered’ and ‘Circadian’ impress and captivate with slow builds to majestic climaxes. While vocalist Michiel Meurs’ guttural vocals serve as a rhythmical element in the djenty passages, his soaring clean vocals are masterfully arranged to enhance the epicness together with the brass section in those climactic moments. Cue ‘Moment of Despair’. This one most certainly lives up to its title, complete with Blackjazz-Guestsax from Mr. Jørgen Munkeby himself, it is not for the faint of heart.
To balance things off, ‘Rebirth’ stays almost completely calm and atmospheric throughout its duration of nine and a half minutes, indulging in serene beauty for a change, preparing for the final onslaught of the last two songs. Unfortunately, those two rely too much on a kind of generic Djent-Core formula, at least for my tastes. Deriving willingly and knowingly from that path was what I enjoyed so much for the most part of “Black Cell Program”. But still, the quality of the first five songs from “Black Cell Program” is already staggering and should put Hologram Earth on the radar of every avid lover of modern extreme prog metal that is willing to stray from the well-trodden path in search for new horizons.