Music review

Time Enough At Last – The Custodian’s Quiet Storm of Prog

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The Custodian’s debut album, Necessary Wasted Time is a very dismantled album. It’s not so much in the fact that it’s “broken,” but more in the fact that it’s divided upon first listen. The band’s reverence for so many different genres makes the album feel just as separated from itself; the focus isn’t clear once you start listening. However, Necessary Wasted Time is something that gradually comes together after you give it time. Like a tree from a seed, it grows from humble and uncertain beginnings into something that can rival even the mighty forests themselves. In a crowded progressive rock circuit, it takes more than polyrhythmic drum fills and intricate guitar solos to stand out, but The Custodian have successfully made one of the slowest, but most enjoyable burns so far this year.

The Custodian twist around the expectations of a progressive band; you won’t find too many Dream Theater-esque riffs and Messhugah-style drumming patterns. Instead, the band focuses on a subdued use of acoustic guitars and synths, similar to the style of spacey indie darlings Radiohead. Aside from some minor syncopated drum patterns, this isn’t a very heavy album at all. Necessary Wasted Time doesn’t march into the stormy unknown; instead, it sits upon the sea shore, staring into the distant and turbulent sea. It’s not so much a timid or nervous record; there’s a strong confidence in The Custodian’s sound.

The mastermind behind The Custodian, former Xerath vocalist Richard Thomson considers his new band’s sound to take bits and pieces from a number of different musical eras, not limiting himself to prog rock alone. It’s very hard to do this, mostly because the different genres blend together messily. Fortunately, The Custodian avoid this hazard; the music on Necessary Wasted Time is ethereal and otherworldly, but it also knows when to bring on the shred. Thomson’s vocal style is part A Perfect Circle-era Maynard James Keenan, part Alter Bridge-era Myles Kennedy. His range mostly stays on the softer, more serene side like in “The Sun Is God”, but songs like “Persona” let the vocalist disperse into something downright ascendant. Despite these many, MANY influences ranging from spacey alternative to 70’s prog to modern power metal, The Custodian do make strides in defining themselves (though what they define themselves as is extremely ambiguous).

“Other People’s Lives” captures that softer and more intimate sound that Thomson aims to achieve. But beneath groovy rhythms and lighter synths, lead guitarist Owain Williams shreds some tight solos, many of which follow acoustic guitarist Nariman Poushin’s forward position. It’s very atmospheric and well-dimensioned, taking the composition patterns of prog metal bands like Between the Buried and Me. The intricacies in the songwriting shine brilliantly on songs like the surprisingly heavy “Things We Tell Ourselves.” The only significant flaw on Necessary Wasted Time is that while the almost indulgent instrumental sections are brilliantly crafted, they don’t differ too much from each other. While extensive guitar solos and multiple passages might keep your typical prog metal fan interested, The Custodian don’t rely on that sense of massive scope and bombastic epicness. It’s a steady story, but ultimately, it feels stronger than the sum of its parts. Necessary Wasted Time is an album best heard in its entirety instead of in its lesser pieces.

Necessary Wasted Time emphasizes its progressive nature over its rock nature, which obviously won’t make too many fans in the headbanging community. However, The Custodian don’t conform to the prog metal template that’s been passed around for the last decade or so. The band is an anomaly in the circuit of progressive rock and metal, one that emphasizes atmosphere and ambiance more than any other band you’ll hear this year. It’s very hard to classify a band like this, but one thing’s for sure: this is a band you’ll definitely want to hear more from in the coming months.

 

THE CUSTODIAN has teamed up with Bloody Disgusting for an exclusive premiere of the video for “Stop Talking”.  The video can be streamed HERE.

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