Next To None – ‘Phases’ (Inside Out Music) Print E-mail
CD Reviews
Written by Jim Rowland   
Monday, 14 August 2017 04:00

Next To None Phases Cover 2017With a father who is regarded as one of the finest drummers of the progressive metal genre, it’s no great surprise that Max Portnoy has followed in his dad’s footsteps in the same genre. With ‘Phases’, the second album from Pennsylvania quartet Next To None, the band are looking to break into new territory within the progressive metal genre, and build on the blueprint laid down on their 2015 debut, ‘A Light In The Dark’. And they may just be doing that with this spirited and adventurous album.


This one marks the recording debut of new guitarist Derrick Schneider, who replaced Ryland Holland last year, and, on the evidence here, this guy can shred with the best of them, as well as knock out some heartfelt solos too. Clocking in at a whopping hour and 20 minutes, the album features 12 tracks, ranging from short interludes ‘13’ and ‘Isolation’, shorter sub five minute bursts such as ‘The Apple’, ‘Beg’ and ‘Mr.Mime’, and longer pieces like ‘Alone’, ‘Clarity’ and ‘Denial’. It all culminates in arguably the album’s centrepiece, the gargantuan closing epic ‘The Wanderer’, which brings together many of the themes of the album in one 19 minute crescendo – well this is progressive music after all.


The progressive nature of Next To None’s style is undeniable; the songs are structured in a complex fashion and the time signatures challenging in places. Add to this a generous helping of crushing heaviness, brutal in places, some gentler, atmospheric passages, vocals that range from a brutal growl to clean and melodic, and a wide variety of sounds and styles from the expected to the unexpected, and the Next To None sound becomes apparent. ‘Answer Me’ kicks the album off combining almost classical piano with brutal blast beats, and ‘Kek’ even incorporates sounds from hip hop.


Both lyrical and musical themes reoccur throughout the album, and converge in that epic closer ‘The Wanderer’ which together with ‘Kek’ stands out as the key  tracks from the album if you want to check out a sampler or two first.


‘Phases’ is intense, complex and ambitious, brutally heavy in places, calmer and contemplative in others. It’s a challenging listen, and not for the faint hearted, but if heavy, truly progressive metal striving to break new ground is your bag, this is one to check out.


‘Phases’ is out now.  You can get your copy HERE.


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