Instrumental, progressive metal can be a bit of a minefield, with some bands attempting to rip off pioneers such as ANIMALS AS LEADERS and INTERVALS, but ending up sounding like a band who fail at attracting a vocalist. Luckily, Birmingham trio AXIOM bring a refreshing stance to instrumental prog which is typically dominated by guitar noodling. On the same sunny edge of the prog spectrum as CHON, AXIOM also incorporate some awesome, funky bass to keep things retro and upbeat. The best thing about debut EP Metathesis though? It was all recorded live within 24 hours and it makes for an energetic and organic production!
Opening track Slumber builds up gently to a wonderfully steely riff. The title is apt as the instrumentation conjures the image of a ride through a cityscape at night. The neon lights are reflected in the dazzling riffs, with bold, slap bass accompanying the super slick guitar. Being recorded live makes the drums sound natural, with the cymbals providing a cascade of crashes which almost sound like fireworks amongst the metallic crunch. The melody throughout the verses is delicate enough to avoid being a long-winded guitar solo. After a couple of minutes Slumber launches into a striking wall of loud rock which the likes of MAYBESHEWILL would be proud of. A storming start.
Lead single Believe is easily the most charming track on Metathesis with its twinkly notes and fun bass hooks. Considering there’s only three members being recorded, the sound is huge, with oodles of energy. The riffs shine bright while the drums maintain the upbeat rhythm. After a groovy first half, it erupts into a progressive ruckus we haven’t seen since the likes of ARCANE ROOTS. Things escalate to a heavy, triumphant break before resorting back to the funky barrage of riffs. Serious progressive rock with a cheeky twinkle in the eye is the best way to describe AXIOM’s delivery and it is irresistible.
Scared is a sublime and heavy offering compared to its predecessors. A fluid, bass riff provides the foundation of a dreamy sequence before the guitars provide the sharp edge. With heavy riffs throughout it is outrageously rocky but somehow seems ballsier as it’s wholly instrumental. The hooks are stellar in every song on Metathesis but Scared boasts catchy hooks as well as a deeper depth to its overall sound. Seriously impressive stuff with only a live recording, it proves AXIOM’s quality as a band.
EP finale Serpentine gets even heavier and is definitely the most ‘metal’ track on Metathesis. The opening melody is a bold, metallic treat which lapses into a softer interlude. This is only the quiet before the storm as the riffs get heavier and crazier. The bass attempts to keep some civility to it but soon joins the assault. The last minute is a bludgeoning farewell and ends the EP with an impact. AXIOM bring the fun, groove and addictive hooks with Metathesis. In a time where bands try to out-tech each other, it’s reassuring that a band like AXIOM can still bring progressive goodness with plenty of heart while keeping the writing honest. Every track on Metathesis is a solid slab of rock. We can be confident that AXIOM will deliver a top-notch full-length. Watch this space.