We live in an age where trends tend to follow a very specific curve thanks to high-speed propagation and market saturation. Djent is no exception. The first stage is inception. A creator comes up with an idea, shares it, and becomes ground zero. Sometimes this is subtle and hard to trace back, sometimes it’s Meshuggah. When it catches on it enters the “new kid on the block” stage, where the trend is new, everyone still loves it (yes, Frank, except for you), and plays around with it. Bands like SikTh and Periphery exemplify this stage. Soon the sheer amount of exposure, copycats, and general reduction of dead horses to a fine red mist means the trend becomes vile and repulsive to everyone but the most die-hard fans, and it falls out of favor. After the crash, the trend usually gradually gets back to its feet and finds an equilibrium where it’s used sparingly and appropriately. This is where Behind the Sun comes in.
Let me preface that I am no fan of djent, so I’m hardly an expert. But I certainly recognize the common complaints as paralleled to my own general dislike of the genre. When all the riffs are similarly stuttering palm-muted chords, you’re gonna lose me fast. But Behind the Sun combine progressive death and djent in smart amounts, weaving between the oft-maligned high-gain chugs and more melodic riffing, gaining heaviness without succumbing to the monotone, glassy-eyed boredom afflicting many of their contemporaries.
There are a few stumbling blocks, however. The vocal style most used is a dual layer of harsh hardcore screaming and a deeper sludgy growl. While it sounds positively demonic at first, the lack of pitch variation and overuse of the concept causes diminishing returns fast. While opener “The Fall” kicks off excitingly with all guns blazing, its almost nine-minute length is on the high side, and a more clearly defined structure on each track would certainly benefit the songs to stand apart and stand out more. “Periapsis” is the most given to djent strumming and is consequently the weakest track with the fewest surprises, despite the intriguing plucking in the intro.
But, the musicianship is undeniable and overcomes the weaknesses with grace and ease. The lengthy instrumental section in the middle of the opener runs through thrashy riffs, melodic finger-tapped solos, a progressive segment with a surprising swing and the kind of heavy tremolo riffing commonly associated with blackened death. The drumming throughout the album is precise and diverse and is accompanied by the solid use of bass. There’re only four real tracks on here (“Scrawlings of the Architect” is an interlude) but the number of ideas presented in each song makes the EP feel like a complete, if short, album. As the cherry on the cake, the production is surprisingly solid, not falling too hard for the trappings of the Loudness War, and featuring a powerful mix with audible bass and forward drums.
Post Solis won’t be heralded as the EP that saved djent from eating itself alive. It’s certainly not flawless in structure and vocals. But through solid musicianship and clever genre jumping, Behind the Sun have demonstrated themselves to be past the “crash and burn” stage of the trend curve. If you look upon djent the way I look upon cilantro (even a little bit ruins the meal) you won’t see your mind changed here. Others will find this a solid chunk of music, and hopefully, a herald of better things yet to come.