Metal is a close cousin of progressive rock, whether or not its adherents choose to admit it. Both styles favor virtuosity and complex song structures - Top 40 be damned. Burlington metallers Brother Through Glass aren't trying to hide their proggy leanings, however. Their self-titled debut contains 13 tunes full of inventive arrangements and intricately brutal hooks.
Unlike many technical metal acts, BTG are unabashedly melodic. Vocalist Will Metivier is a versatile singer whose style is reminiscent of both Mike Patton and Brandon Boyd of Incubus. He can certainly growl with the best of them, but he employs his abrasiveness judiciously.
The rest of the band is extremely solid; guitarist Scott Kirby serves up twisting riffs and airy solos while drummer Casey Kiernan provides a thunderous drum attack. Bassist Jeremy Gartner is a little low in the mix, but it's clear he has no trouble handling such ambitious material.
Opener "Stone of the Ages" is an old-school thrasher with chugging riffs and a relentless tempo. "Now this hope is a rope around my neck / This hope is a rope around me," Metivier sings in the tune's tumultuous chorus.
Stun-gun guitars and menacing vocals herald the arrival of "Reality TV," a scathing indictment of vacuous youth. "Don't cut my credit card, mom / What would I do without it?" Metivier howls over churning guitars and dogged drumming.
"Brother Through Glass" features a more streamlined framework than the other cuts on this disc. Unfortunately, it's one of the band's weaker efforts. BTG are at their best on the knottier numbers; the more twisted the arrangement, the more they shine. Still, it must be cool to have a tune with the same name as that of your band.
Arthurian legend gets its due on "Mordred," which contains lyrics that any Dungeon Master would approve of. "I draw my father's sword (and plunge it through his heart to taste his blood) / I'll find my vengeance here (here upon the stone from which it came)," Metivier bellows as his band gallops through an action epic's worth of musical sequences.
"Darklore Inc." opens with a volley of precision snare before settling into some classic metal, while "Night" features a tribal groove in 6/8 time. The chorus splits the difference between soaring rock and grisly hardcore; it'd no doubt sound even more intense live.
Album closer "Juniper" features yet another serpentine arrangement that shows off the band's considerable chops. Metivier sounds particularly strong on this cut, as he switches between melodic crooning and bloodcurdling screams.
Burlington has a thriving heavy music scene, but the funkier, jammier lot sometimes overshadows it. Brother Through Glass are proudly keeping it real for local metal fans; long may they shred. Catch them live on Thursday, February 22, at Club Metronome with Workingman's Army and Shotgun Blues.