In some progressive circles, there is this strange notion that all progressive music has its root in 70s prog rock. I remember when Earthside released their debut, reviewers were mentioning influences from the 70s, which I knew was not true for that band at all. Poem is another band that, while I’m sure they love the prog “greats”, their music has different roots and influences. Poem is releasing their new album “Unique” on February 23rd, and the results speak to another genre that I happen to love.
Poem is a busy band and they really know how to rock. Following up on their 2016 release, “Skein Syndrome”, the band are back again and sound as fresh as ever. The band consists of Giorgos Prokopiou on vocals and guitar, Laurence Bergström on lead guitar, Takis Foitos on bass, and Stavros Rigos on drums. As you can tell, this isn’t your typical ethereal prog with atmospheric keys or synthy solos and the like. While I love that kind of prog, I also love this darker, driving, distorted brand of progressive metal that evokes deep emotions and blunted textures.
Poem is a band that almost feels a bit like a guilty pleasure for me. While I have no shame in my love for late 90s/early 00s alternative rock and metal, this band channels those raw emotions and distorted guitars perfectly. So, yes, their musical style is progressive rock/metal, but it is with a distinctly alternative rock/metal vibe, from the vocal hooks to the guitar work to the raw and breakneck pace of the music. They elevate that genre to new heights with outside-the-box song structures and instrumental portions, too.
The instrumentals on this album don’t feel like your typical prog. While they are wonderfully technical, yes, the instrumentals seem to portray states of mind and emotions. You can almost feel the raw emotions in the instrumentals as they connect with the lyrical content that surrounds them. They are the musical expressions of the lyrics themselves, like a great acoustic mirror.
Speaking of lyrics, the raw nature of them requires a certain kind of singer. Girogos reminds me of high school in all the best ways. His voice is quite expressive and relatable, and his work with hooks is near perfect. He sounds desperate and passionate about what he is communicating.
The album is fairly short at 41 minutes and only 7 tracks. That said, every single track is strong. My favorites are the opener “False Morality”, a dark and personal song with an awesome vocal hook; “Discipline”, a fantastically gritty song with some awesome instrumental riffage near the end; and “Euthanasia” with its great central hook. “Brightness of Loss” is a fantastic ending to an album that does not outstay its welcome. It is emotional and has some thoroughly off kilter instrumentals that are a joy to hear.
Poem deserves your ears on this new album “Unique”. If you love alternative metal, Poem is the best thing that subgenre has seen in years. If you love progressive metal, I think you will really dig this sound, as well.