source-return-to-nothing-01Any connoisseur of fine metal music will jump at the opportunity to list off the bands that got them into the genre. Some will cite Death and Metallica, while others might cry Europe without shame. For me, one of those bands was most definitely Tool. Now, I was but a wee metal tyke when I first listened to Tool10,000 Days was fresh off the press and after being introduced to it for the first time, I quickly caught up with their discography and then eagerly began the wait for the next release.

Yep. It’s been about 3,800 days since Tool pressed any fresh material, so I’m guessing we’re almost halfway to something new? Well, a trio of go-getter fans from Colorado up and said “fuck that” taking matters into their own hands. They formed a band called Source, wrote a bunch of Tool-y material and now they’re set to make their debut with Return to Nothing.

As Return to Nothing begins to spin, Source’s inspirations become obvious almost immediately. Tool dominates, and opening track “Forgiveness” has everything you might expect, from the heady philosophical themes to the syncopated, tribal drumming. Singer/guitarist Ben Gleason even sounds like Maynard and his fret-work emulates that of Adam Jones’ at more than a few points over the course of the record. Now, writing Source off as a simple rip-off band would be quite a mistake indeed, because Return to Nothing is actually a decent album. The band has the playing chops and the creativity to do more than just emulate, and their song writing skills are quickly made apparent as they weave back and forth between styles. Opethian death metal sections are common. Trippy experimental guitar solos and crisp jazzy, interludes invoke Leprous and Intronaut. In fact, the whole album plays out like a platter of Tool served with a side of Opeth, smothered in extra progressive sauce. Yum.

Source does a good job of mixing their influences and keeping things fresh, but Return to Nothing doesn’t know when to stop. Boasting 70 minutes of music, it would seem the band is really striving to make good on that lack of new Tool material (and that’s excluding the eight minute bonus track). While most of it is enjoyable, the record simply cannot command such a run time. Giving my full attention to the album from beginning to end was nigh impossible. Lengthy instrumental sections and choruses repeated one time too many mean quite a few of the tracks could have been cut down by a minute or two and the experience would have been made better. While you could spin the front and back halves in separate listening sessions and enjoy both, there’s once again something to be said for self-editing.

source-return-to-nothing-02

Thankfully, other complaints are sparse. The whole band does an excellent job with their respective roles, which is made even more noticeable by the record’s mixing job. Georges Octobous is deft on the kit and his tribal drumming is made prominent by a nice boost to the low end. This also helps bring Dan Crisafulli’s mastery of the bass guitar to front stage, a wise decision considering his playing is responsible for some of the most enjoyable moments on the record, with “The Essence” and “The Serpent” both shining because of him. One detail that should be discussed is Ben’s vocals. While his cleans fit the music well, they lack emotion and his harsh vocals are much too soft and timid to capture the Akerfeldt-style death metal growls he’s going for.

Overall, Return to Nothing is a promising debut from a band that knows what they like and aren’t afraid to borrow from the best. Source has a bright future in the progressive metal scene, and if Ben can grow into his vocals and the band can keep their writing concise they could very well knock it out of the park with the next one. Just pray we don’t have to wait a full decade to find out.


Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 256 kbps mp3
Label: Pavement Entertainment
Websites: listentosource.com | facebook.com/listentosource
Releases Worldwide: September 23rd, 2016

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  • I like this. They sound like a muted version of Ghost Brigade and singer reminds me of the guy from Live.

    • Dorknagar

      This guy has maybe the slightest passing resemblance to that type of voice but nowhere near the character, range or expression.

      • I agree he isn’t as good, but he isn’t too shabby either.

        • AnnieK13

          I think he would benefit from some vocal coaching…needs to get rid of his nasal quality – he sings through his nose too much.

      • André Snyde Lopes

        Great username

  • JJnetZach

    Interesting. Gotta check this out. How’d you say this compares to for example Soen?

    • Zephyrus

      I revisited Soen while forming an opinion of these guys, actually! They’ve got similarities for sure, although I’d say Source puts a heavier emphasis on ‘traditional’ progressive tendencies, such as guitar solos, extended instrumental sections, mixed vocals… That sort of thing.

      • JJnetZach

        Sounds great. I always thought Soen was a little too “prog-metal” for my taste. Thanks man.

    • I’d say this is a little more accessible than Soen.

      • JJnetZach

        Now that I’ve listened to this great album I’d say yeah, perhaps not “accessible” but less prog-metal and more just prog/alt-rock (which is closer to Tool’s style of choice). It’s a healthy mix of Tool, Katatonia and, umm.. I dunno. The guitars are very alt-rockish in the clean parts.

  • Caio

    Tool is, in fact, my favorite metal band, and like many other fans I can’t wait for some new material and I’m on the spirit to check anything Tool-influenced. I’m definitily going to check this album.

    • hallowed

      I suppose you’ve heard of Rishloo, but if you haven’t, check them out. They make some sweet Tool-influenced music. Their Eidolon album really is a standout.

      • GrandmasterB

        Correction — they used to make Tool-influenced music. Their last two releases have been completely unique masterpieces and owe very little to Tool’s sound.

  • Lord Lucan

    The vocals just lack something for me; they don’t have quite enough oomph (technical term that). The bass work makes me excited in deep and confusing ways though. Aaand breathe…

  • And yet another probie writer to boot. What a world!

    • Zephyrus

      Thanks Steel! I think that’s my cue to stop my lurking and start smearing my opinions around the comment section also.

      • Smear wisely, my son.

      • El_Cuervo

        Acquire yourself a humorous picture too.

        • Dr. Wvrm

          Try to avoid Skeletor’s balls in said picture.

        • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

          Like a smurf wearing corpse paint.

  • Well, this album certainly gave me a much needed fix. Time will tell if it can hold up, but first reaction is positive. This year keeps getting better and better

  • Got a bit of a Katatonia vibe from the embedded track, particularly the chorus vocal melody. Hasn’t grabbed me hugely on first listen but will give it time based on your review. Also welcome!

    • Scourge

      Seriously, how did that go without mention? Granted, Katatonia has done their impression of Tool plenty, so maybe it’s a case of going directly back to the source for the review. But I hear more Katatonia than Tool in the embedded track.

    • junkyhead

      Same here man. Specially coming from the vocal lines. Really interest in hearing the whole thing. Great stuff!

    • sir_c

      Agree on that, there’s definitely a Katatonia vibe, but so far it did not leave a crushing experience yet.

  • This album is at least a 4.0 in my book. I can’t stop listening to it.

  • The embedded track is about as dull as this style gets. I like vanilla ice cream, but vanilla music, not so much. Maybe the rest of the album is better.

    • JJnetZach

      The embedded track is actually 8+ minutes on the LP.

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    — So, what’s the band’s name?
    — Source
    — File it after Soen

  • The Unicorn
    • Hulksteraus

      Diversifying! You definitely aren’t a one trick pony…, although if you wanted to keep on theme, a horn on the burger would top it off.

      • [not a Dr]

        Or, at least, a toothpick.

    • Norfair Legend

      I try to never eat that shit but now I want a big mack really bad.

  • MelbCro

    doesn’t sound that much like tool

    • Not as much in the streaming track as in a few other songs, but there is a little bit of Tool to be traced. Personally I think of this as somewhat closer to Pearl Jam than Tool anyway. Mixed with elements of calm, proggy post-metal. Katatonia are mentioned by a few of the other commenters. Probably not a bad reference, although I’m not an expert.

  • Ein Sophistry

    All these singers aiming for Maynardesque timbres and completely neglecting the Maynardesque passion which is what really made Tool’s vocals so compelling (I’m glaring at you too, Soen). Smh.

    • GardensTale

      But… The Words, man. That song is so fucking beautiful.

  • Mr T

    Pretty cool. I’m thinking maybe Textures-y. Embedded track is kinda boring tho.

  • lennymccall

    I’ll stick with Cobalt for all my Toolishness needs. Cause I’m really not a fan of Tool but Cobalt just does it so damn well.

  • Like many, I was all, I dunno, tool? Then I heard Forgiveness on their site and the “life death rebirth” bit and yeah I will never give this clone my money.

  • robpal

    Great find, really high quality debut. Listening to it now.

    • robpal

      Damn, “The Serpent” is really up there with Soen in quality. Amazing track!

  • Norfair Legend

    So I bought this after listening to the provided song. I’m really liking it, I just wish there was a tad more emotion to the vocal range. I think the singer has a nice voice but it seems to stay in the calm cleans to heavy vocals. I would love to hear him dig in a give a few impassioned high clean rips here and there to add weight. I can literally feel it but it doesn’t happen.

    Kinda my same feeling of DuVall in AIC, so many songs you’re just waiting for hip to rip and he never does. He can do it live on the old songs but the material is holding him back.

    Very good album though and will be in my rotation, super excited to hear what comes next.

  • jetblindracos

    Funny,I actually like this(Pressed repeat more than once.).Never checked on Tool with all due seriousness before, but I’ill do so now.

  • Peter

    Really enjoying this one. Surprised how much I am liking it too. Getting very much a Soen vibe, particularly the vocals.

  • GWW

    Wow, that was underwhelming. What a boring derivative tune. I assume the whole record is like that.