Bursting into the progressive metal scene with his debut record Entities in 2013, Martin Andres and company created an ambitious instrumental album. Andres exemplified a knack for constructing epic tracks blending piano, catchy guitar leads, and complex rhythms teeming with energy. Entitiesdid feel a tad bloated due to its length, however. Its sound echoed of bands already forging paths in the genre, though it stood tall and mostly unshaken. In Boundless, Andres refines his craft. He matures and transcends his first effort, achieving a style he can call his own.
Chugging riffs are a mainstay for most songs on Boundless. While this stylistic choice may push some listeners away, each song expands beyond its foundation. Guitar crescendos, sweeps, and licks texture each riff, while snare pops and kick drums drive a song’s bobbing groove. “The Masked Ball” swirls with a volley of rhythm changes. Drums engulf the guitar, cascading into a crescendo as piano keys float through the wispy atmosphere. “Cyclic” sprints with a frantic piano melody. Guitar taps chase piano keys through the clouds and tumble into passages which cast shadows over the thrumming bass.
You hear pockets of air pushed by the pummeling kick drums as infrequent fills allow the guitar to breathe. “Stomp the Haunted Crown” harbors a rhythmic gallop and builds tension which dissipates into double kick drums. “Billions and Billions” plods with a lead stride as slap bass and guitar careen over trudging riffs. These heavier tracks in particular benefit from tonal shifts. They pivot on small explosive thuds brought forth by the album’s production; and they also cast darker shades on Boundless, injecting versatility to the lion’s share of upbeat compositions.
For further color, Andres garners a quartet of string musicians to break up the chugging riffs. “Paper Hammers” is a beautiful piano-laden interlude complemented by warm guitar and bellowing strings. “Ovation” comprises double bass, cello, and viola; it capstones Boundless and serves as a reflection upon Andres’ spectacular journey. Soaring above Entities, Boundless ascends to a higher summit and gazes upon a broader horizon in Andres’ instrumental adventure.
Score: 8.0 / 10.0
Listen to Boundless above; purchase the record here.