Communic – Hiding from the World Review

Communic has become a bit of an enigma  for me over the past 9 years. Though exceptionally talented and creative, this prog-power trio seem to find ways to undercut themselves and guarantee that they remain an underappreciated act. Early albums like Conspiracy in Mind and Waves of Visual Decay were amazing doses of progressive metal in the vein of Nevermore and it looked like they were going to be the next big thing. Since then they’ve been much more irregular, though they’ve yet to release a truly bad album. Both 2011s The Bottom Deep and 2017s Where Echoes Gather had a lot going for them, but bloated songs and inconsistent writing conspired to bring them down. This was frustrating because you could clearly hear the potential the band possess and every release has a song or three that blow your doors off. Now comes sixth album, Hiding from the World, and again I go in hoping to hear the band fulfil their obvious but mostly unmet potential with a truly killer platter. Care to wager how all this works out?

Communic has delivered another series of intricate, carefully crafted progressive metal songs in their tried and true formula. There’s an inescapable Nevermore influence,1 but what they do also references acts like Witherfall and Pyramaze. Crunchy, heavy guitar-work is often paired with very Warrel Dane-like vocals. Hooks are prevalent as is top-notch musicianship, but as usual, terminal bloat is an unwanted but ever-present companion. Opener “Plunder of Thoughts” does many things right, but its zaftig eight minutes allow the band time to make unforced errors and missteps, dragging things out a good three minutes past the ideal ending point. That’s a shame because I love much of what they do here. There are a plethora of vocal hooks and a truckload of great guitar-work. It has the same melancholic vibe Nevermore often wielded, and there are numerous good ideas to appreciate. It would be a sensational 5-6 minute cut. The title track bears all the same benefits and burdens, but runs another minute and a half. This one practically drips with forlorn emotion and features some truly striking music and moods. At times it feels like a mash up of Nevermore and early 90s Fates Warning, and though bloat takes a heavy toll, there’s still a brilliant song here awaiting the patient listener.

The band toys with black metal influences on “Face in the Crowd” as blast beats join heavy Machine Head-esque grooves and proggy time signatures. “Born Without a Heart” manages to be uber catchy and melodic yet lapses into epic Immortal-style riffing at unexpected moments and it works quite well. Album closer “Forgotten” is the best in show – a beautiful, emotionally raw song that ranges from classic Trouble style sullen 70s rock to an imitation of vintage Nevermore that’s uncanny. As good as it is, it just doesn’t need to approach the ten-minute mark to get its point across, yet it does nonetheless and is a lesser song for it. At just over an hour, Hiding from the World feels too long. There’s a great album here, but the spare tire around its midsection guarantees it can’t ascend to that next level where it should be.

As always guitarist/vocalist Oddleif Stensland impresses with his six-string acumen and vocal prowess. His riff-work is generally very solid and his soloing is often beautiful. Yes, the guy continues to ape Warrel Dane too closely too often, but with Dane no longer with us, it feels somewhat comforting these days. His vocal delivery is not without other issues though. He has a tendency to get overly dramatic and theatrical at times, making some moments feel cheesy and a bit silly (“My Temple of Pride”). He can also get too verbose, stuffing more words into a given segment than can fit comfortably (the back end of “Plunder of Thoughts”). His supporting players are very talented. Tor Atle Andersen is a monster on the kit and Erik Mortensen is a talented bassist, though the mix doesn’t give him nearly enough time in the spotlight. There’s so much raw talent here, it makes their continued shortfalls all the more frustrating. Again.

If you cut 2-3 minutes off every song and get this thing down to 48 minutes, this would be an easy 4.0. As it stands, the same issues that undermined the last few releases do the same to the very promising material here. There are great songs present and so much high level music to savor, but once again the editing gods have not smiled upon Communic.2 Check this out anyway. It may scratch that Nevermore itch for some and those with a tolerance for excess may just fall in love.


Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: AFM
Websites: communic.org | communic.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/officialcommunic
Releases Worldwide: November 20th, 2020

Show 2 footnotes

  1. That cover art looks like it was swiped from both Nevermore and Novembers Doom.
  2. They also need MOAR swords!
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