Since forming in 2011, D.C.-based metal trio Myopic have released a number of EPs and splits with other bands, each experimenting with different points along the extreme metal spectrum. 2013’s Vacuous was a rather straight-forward death metal offering, while 2014’s Beyond the Mirror’s Edge delved into rock territory. And their portion of 2014’s excellent split with Torrid Husk, Crawling Mountain Apogee, had a more black metal orientation. In other words, the worst way to describe this band is, uh, myopic.
Myopic’s forthcoming self-titled album is yet another evolution. It’s the band’s full-length debut, and it represents yet another stylistic shift, this time combining elements of black, progressive, and post-metal. Centered around themes of loneliness, the album tells the story of a man traveling into the wilderness and, as bass player and vocalist Nick Leonard says, “surviving against the harsh nature of reality,” before eventually dying. It’s a heavy record. It’s a dark record. But it’s also a record that takes its time and isn’t afraid to give the listener a moment to breathe.
This is probably the album’s biggest strength—it’s a much more dynamic offering than any of the band’s previous releases. A lot of black and death metal can be almost too oppressive (heresy, I know, for the true kvlt among us), but the fact that Myopic have moved toward more progressive and post-metal compositions, leaning in to a more atmospheric approach, makes the nearly hour- long album a pleasure from start to finish.
Nowhere is this approach more apparent than in “In Exile,” a nearly 13-minute behemoth that comes at the midway point of the album. It starts slow, with guitarist/vocalist Sean Simmons and drummer Michael Brown working in tandem, Simmons’ guitar crafts a spacey atmosphere and Brown’s drumming marches listeners along toward the rest of the track. Then Leonard’s bass joins the fray anchoring the track with heavy distortion and a driving riff. Intensity slowly builds until the end of the second minute, exploding for a brief moment before abruptly returning to a variation of the first riff, this time with Leonard’s bass clean. And that’s only in the first three minutes.
Leonard’s and Simmons’ vocal styles also play heavily into the dynamics of each track. Simmons is more of a traditional black metal vocalist, growling and snarling his way around lyrics, while Leonard opts for a booming doom metal-inspired style of clean sing- ing. In a genre where vocal variety often comes at a premium, the mix of approaches sounds nice. The only issue is that Simmons’ vocals occasionally fade into the mix. In and of itself, that’s not a problem—and may very well have been a stylistic decision—but when the harsh vocals are sometimes in-your-face loud and barely discernible, it’s a touch jarring.
In the grand scheme of things, though, this is a small gripe. Myopic is a strong outing from start to finish, and is an impressive full-length debut for a band that has spent so long refining its identity.
Grimoire Records will release Myopic on Nov. 9.