Artists like Lascaille's Shroud are the living proof that independent music can strive for, and reach, the heights unattainable by more commercially-minded projects. There is no question about it: when an artist is given an opportunity to create to his mind's content without regard for creating a three minute product rather than art, amazing things can happen. At seventy three minutes in length, "Parallel Infinities" is an ambitious undertaking that dabbles in several genres from aggressive death metal to ambient and electronica to produce an absolutely stunning work of music.
"Parallel Infinities" is the project's first full-length album, and second overall release. While the 2012 EP "Leaving Earth Behind" was a highly impressive work in itself, the full-length album takes the ideas of that EP and ups the ante considerably. The general approach is still highly conceptual, taking a base of atmospheric, progressive death metal and marrying it with prominent keyboards, occasional clean vocals courtesy of Patrick Hoyt (Project: Roenwolfe, ex-Theocracy), and subtle yet effective electronic bits that underline science fiction concept.
Unlike many other progressive metal bands, Lascaille's Shroud does not attempt to overwhelm the listener with unnecessary technicality or virtuosic playing. Instead, the band creates complex, lush aural landscapes, knowing when to throw in an aggressive part with blast beats and harsh vocals, when to march to the tune of militant industrial-like beat, and when to throw in an odd time signature and a complex yet melodic solo. Every little piece has a part, and all parts combine to create a greater whole. Taken individually, each song is an impressive work of art, but taken together, they tell a story.
"Parallel Infinities" is a concept album, based on an original storyline created by Lascaille's Shroud mainman Brett Windnagle. The story is a science fiction epic in truest sense of the word, questioning morality, evolution, metaphysics, and other Big Questions as each of the seven chapters plays out. Even without knowing the concept, the album creates an impression of a cohesive whole, but with it, the experience is further enhanced, taking it into the realm of all-encompassing storytelling.
While progressive metal has dubious distinction of frequently being guilty of soulless instrumental precision, "Parallel Infinities" creates a distinct mood, at times caustic and exploratory, at times dark and brooding, floating somewhere in between here and Andromeda and yet remaining poignantly close to home. There is no shortage of memorable, emotional material, despite most songs hovering well above ten minute mark and lacking traditional verse-chorus structures. Even listeners with short attention span will find melodies that resonate long after the album finished playing, while attentive listeners will be rewarded with rich sonic tapestry.
2013 might have just started, but Lascaille's Shroud already delivered a strong Album of the Year contender. Best of all, the band's label, Masters of Metal Productions, offers it for free download through their website! Anyone with even a shred of appreciation for music owes it to himself to get a copy.