Album Review – Blizzard At Sea: Invariance

Blizzard At Sea claims to be a metal band. Sure, singer/guitarist Steven Douglas tortures his vocal chords with a classic Cookie Monster gargle, but something else is going on here. Before kicking into proggy start-stop riffing, “Island Of Stars” begins with an extended dreamy intro, anchored with oceanic bass, reminding me of the trancey minimalism of New Zealand’s Bailter Space.

And then there’s the album title “Invariance” and song names like “Closed Universe” and “Action At A Distance”–are these guys closet mathletes? Under those black Napalm Death T-shirts are they somehow concealing lab coats? I shouldn’t be surprised that any band that incorporates mixed-meter rubik’s cubes of riffs into their songs is letting their nerd flag fly a little bit.

To the extent that they occasionally find a groove to ride, I’m totally with them. But Invariance is like Iowa weather–wait a minute and it will change. There’s loads of good stuff here, like the strange double-time ‘B’ section in “Simulcra” that recalls Philip Glass. But I’m not enough of a metal fan to be as excited about the bombastic headbanging riffs that follow. They can certainly play though, and the sound throughout this album is dynamic and warm, not a tinny & harsh “it goes to eleven” onslaught like a lot of new Metal.

But I wish Blizzard At Sea would stay on the slowed down groovy stoner side of the street. Every time they switch suddenly to a thrashy metal section in the song, I feel like I’m riding in the car and my annoying little brother switched radio stations on me. If metal is your thing, though, this EP will get your head thrashing and your ears ringing, and there’s nothing wrong with that.