Review: Redshift – Laws of Entropy

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This is the kind of bullshit that prog is for—smacking you in the face with arithmetic from the very first bars and leading you by the nose through a never-ending zigzag of shifting subdivisions, elaborately architected synth noodles, and adenoidal Geddy Lee vocals. This is not the kind of record that hides its prog-rocking ambitions behind any veneer of art-rock cool or mathcore hipness or “post”-anything respectability. This is the strong stuff, the old prog, the kind of shit that we thought punk rock decapitated back in 1977 and the New Wave of British Heavy Metal staked in the heart a few years later, except it turns out it didn’t die so easy.

Oh its not pure revivalism—they break out the death growls every now and then to situate themselves in metal modernity, plus some of the riffs do read as distinctly third millennium. But there’s no mistaking this as a good-old-fashioned prog rock record, with its deepest bones dredged up out of the chronological abyss that is The World Before Ramones; for starters, its a concept album, and though I couldn’t pick out the plot if you put a gun to my head (not that any concept album plotline has ever been comprehensible without reference to interviews or packed-in paratext, but I digress), its themes of aimlessness, anxiety, and post-adolescent crisis still shine through, and if the anti-conformity anthemism that it sometimes indulges in can get a little sophomoric I won’t hold it against them because a) we live in a sophomoric age and b) sophomoric anthemism is also the kind of bullshit that prog is for, and is just the sort of indulgence that best justifies prog’s mapped-out-on-graph-paper vision of rock and roll.

Furthermore, I find it hard to hold anything against a record that produces something as compelling and as shameless as this album’s metal-cum-lounge-act midpoint “Entropy”, a 7 1/2-minute carnival ride through demented ragtime, hard rock muscle, snazzy horn interjections, hardcore rants, fusion solos, and existential alienation screaming through a haze of agonizing middle-class pablum—certainly one of the best metal tracks of the year, and well worth the price of admission on its own. Prog bullshit triumphs.


Badger Chibo writes the History of Heavy Metal zine.

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