Construct Paradise - “Suspended Animation”
A few months ago, I was able to catch Construct Paradise at the Webster Underground in Hartford. Their set was cut down to a whopping three songs due to some technical difficulties, but on a colorful bill that ran the gamut from your local mosh to the blazing technical metal of headliners Within the Ruins, Construct Paradise managed to leave an impression. Maybe it’s their sound, which falls somewhere in the camp of progressive metal/djent, and which I arbitrarily associate with elaborate productions and packed houses, but it seemed like Construct Paradise should have been playing a much bigger stage.
Listening to Suspended Animation, I still think that’s true. It’s a highly-polished labor of love from front to back, and it’s going to attract all sorts of positive attention in the next few months. “Lucid Dream,” the song I remember best from their abbreviated show, sets a wonderful tone: familiar enough to catch the listener’s attention, but also written well enough to keep it. Most djent bands tend to stop once they’ve mastered the tone, but these guys remember that you need to be able to write a song with it, too.
While no one’s going to accuse Construct Paradise of breaking ground (at least on Suspended Animation), “Lucid Dream” shows off everything they’ve got going for them in under four minutes: hard-hitting riffs and fluid melodies for roughly the first half of the song before the ethereal cleans and background keys really start to take over, giving the band some room to flex. It’s capped by an equally dynamic guest solo from local Currents/Shadow of Intent guitarist Chris Wiseman, and it ends where it should. A perfect opener.
With such a strong lead track, it’s expected that the rest of the EP will struggle to reach the same highs. While that’s not entirely the case, “Crystal Contemplations,” despite featuring an even more pronounced keyboard sound and knack for melody, comes off a little monochromatic between “Lucid Dream” and the heavier and more soaring “New Design.” “Haunt Me” opens with a nostalgic tapping line cut short by a return to the band’s more typical djent shredding, but it’s also a bit of a curveball on the tracklist, coming in just as the seams start showing: it teases another big, sung chorus like the ones that dominate the previous three tracks, but the vocal ratio is skewed much closer to to the harsh end while still keeping things melodically dense. “Personal Vendetta” boasts my favorite solo on the album, a swaggering line over classic, off-kilter djent riffs - familiar, but deeply satisfying, and done better than comparable acts.
Ben Duerr, the other half of Shadow of Intent, makes an appearance for closer “Citadel.” Which is easily the most dissonant track on the EP, Duerr’s bottomless lows are a welcome addition to the grinding soundscapes the band gives him to work with. I get the sense that Construct Paradise may have written the song to accommodate him rather than the other way around, but that’s hardly a negative - with clean vocals out of the picture, the keys relegated to an accent, and a change of focus to blunter and more crushing sounds, Construct Paradise prove they can channel Vildhjarta better than most of their peers, too!
Suspended Animation is solid work by a solid band who are only going to get more popular as this EP reaches more and more ears. It’s well-written, well-produced, and most importantly, hints at bigger and better things to come, which is all an EP needs to do. If they can explore the darker corner of their sound (“Citadels,” “Haunt Me”) while applying their ear for melody (“New Design,” “Crystal Contemplations”) and songwriting (“Lucid Dream,” “Personal Vendetta”), I don’t see any reason why Construct Paradise won’t be playing their full-length, whenever it hits, on the bigger and better stages they deserve.
- Brian L.