For quite some time now, people have been recommending me to listen to SIMULACRUM, a progressive metal outfit from Finland. Having listened to their debut and sophomore album, “The Master and the Simulacrum” (2012) and “Sky Divided” (2015), I get why so many people are so fond of the prog band. Unfortunately during the years, it has been a bit quiet around the band, but now they’re breaking the silence with their brand new full-length album, “Genesis,” released on February 12th, 2021, via Frontiers Music srl.
My history with progressive rock and metal goes back to the year 1999 when YES‘ “Homeworld (The Ladder)” was released. Even though I was only 8 years old, I was intrigued by the soundscapes and complexities of the music that in a way was so masterfully put together and created something so mesmerizingly beautiful and otherworldly. This feels important to mention because I feel that this type of progressive rock music seems to be the exact thing that inspired these musicians to create “Genesis.” At the same time, the elements from ’70s prog are neatly mixed with more contemporary progressive metal sounds, making “Genesis” a true ode to progressive rock/metal in all its facets. This album is not only for those who worship ’70s progressive metal acts like YES, but also those who kept devoting themselves to the genre in the ’90s with bands like DREAM THEATHER and SYMPHONY X, and ultimately for those who enjoy newer progressive bands like PERIPHERY and HAKEN.
The album starts off with “Traumatized,” which immediately shows the heavier side of SIMULACRUM. While the song feels mostly focused on its chugging guitar rhythms, a sense of lightness is added by keyboards. The duality of the vocals is something that works really well from the get-go; Broman and Kraemer‘s vocals blend very well together and contrast each other where necessary. “Nothing Remains” is the first single SIMULACRUM had released off this album. Slightly reminiscent of bands like SYMPHONY X, this song is definitely one of the most catchy tracks of the album. From impressive drums and groovy bass lines to excellent keyboards and beautiful melodies, this song is a prime example of the complexity of their sound. There are so many details and layers that every time you listen to it, you discover something new. Most of the songs follow the same style in the first half of the album, from the powerful “Arrhythmic Distortions,” the slower and emotive “Like You, Like Me,” to the thundering “Scorched Earth.”
The last half of the album consists of one song divided into four parts, which is probably the highlight of the album. The first part, “The Celestial Architect,” was earlier released on the band’s debut album “The Master and the Simulacrum.” It’s in this half, that the band explores the genre of prog as a whole. There are so many different elements in these tracks that I do not even know where to begin: from jazzy sections (with very impressive bass lines) and more atmospheric passages, to songs that still reveal their background as a metal band. Then there is a song like “The Human Equation“ (AYREON, anybody?) where the vocals reach spheres that Jon Anderson often visits, including vocal harmonies.
As with many progressive acts, this album may not be for everybody. For those who are not fond of music as extravagant as progressive metal, this album might feel very overwhelming at first, due to its many layers and details, and it does take a couple of spins and listens to get used to the wall of sound. However, for that very niched audience that considers themselves progheads, it’s quite evident that this album will please their needs. The album is extremely diverse with both extremely heavy tracks and introspective moments. SIMULACRUM managed to mix in a lot of different styles while still maintaining their own sound and identity throughout the record, resulting in a beautiful progressive journey that will take you through a rollercoaster of soundscapes. If you dare to take the path less traveled, “Genesis” might surprise you a whole lot; brilliant from start to finish.
2. Nothing Remains
3. Arrhythmic Distortions
4. Like You, Like Me
5. Scorched Earth
6. Genesis Part 1: The Celestial Architect
7. Genesis Part 2: Evolution Of Man
8. Genesis Part 3: The Human Equation
9. Genesis Part 4: End Of Entropy
Christian “Chrism” Pulkkinen – Keyboards & Orchestrations
Nicholas “Solomon” Pulkkinen – Guitars, Bowed Harp & Bark Horn
Niklas Broman – Vocals
Erik Kraemer – Vocals
Tatu Turunen – Drum Set & Percussion
Petri Mäkilä – Guitars
Olli Hakala – Bass, Chapman Stick & Electric Upright
Frontiers Music slr