Letters From The Colony – “Vignette” (Nuclear Blast)
If you thought that the boundaries of eclecticism had been pushed enough, then these Swedes might have a thing or two to say about that! Almost hailing from the land far beyond and hence justifying their own unusual name, Letters From The Colony come from Borlänge, a town on the banks of the Dalecarlian river buried by ‘many hills’. In the catacombs of Cozmoz, probably the only underground music venue in that somber place, a group of like minded musicians came together in the belief that music is the thread that ties each individual to a larger, collective soul. Drawing influences from Meshuggah, Between The Buried And Me and Pink Floyd, the forging began as some left while others changed instrumental roles before settling on the group, style and sound that would result in “Vignette”. Centered around chopping djent riffs tastefully laced with plenty of complex polymorphic rhythms while being encompassed by a genteel prog backdrop, there couldn’t be bigger contrast between the cerebral guitar work of founder guitarist Sebastian Svalland and the harsh, icy raw vocals of Alexander Backlund – yet somehow it all works! Whether pulling or pushing the speed, bending the sound or keeping it level, chucking brutality in your face or soothing your senses with atmospheric surreality, Letters From The Colony keep it all altogether and moving seamlessly with plenty of unpredictable moments to keep their music exciting and energetic. Equally, despite being prog based, the material isn’t too drawn out, so the songs make their mark without losing their emotional reach while not falling foul of becoming repetitive or monotonous. Impressively well delivered with the standard being high throughout, the standout moments for me were ‘Glass Palaces’ with its heavy djent contrasting superbly with almost jazz like infusions of stellar guitar melodies while being graced by ethereal prog pieces while on ‘Sunrise’ the chundering furor and chopping drum beats set the staccato rhythm of the song amid Backlund roaring like a bear in the woods and Svalland’s guitar wailing as if in the heavens. Going for a short instrumental in ‘This Creature Will Haunt Us Forever’, the soothing calmness of the delicate guitars is brutally shattered by the aptly titled ‘Cataclysm’, with its hard djent, frantic double bass drumming driving the horror of the number through insane math warblings, harsh vocals and even rawer screams in the background. A stunning debut by all accounts, “Vignette” shows what happens when the wonders of the mind meet the magnificence of nature’s isolation.