Rendezvous Point, the Norwegian progressive metal quintet, has returned with their new album Universal Chaos. This follows on from the release of their debut album, Solar Storm, in 2015. The band explore a variety of tones and textures throughout this new album including some similarities in style to Leprous. This is perhaps not too surprising as Rendezvous Point drummer Baard Kolstad drums for both bands.
Progressive metal can be an ambiguous term as it is a metal subgenre that is open to interpretation. Rendezvous Point’s interpretation combines a variety of metal aspects with synth sounds to create dynamic tracks. The new album opens with Apollo. This track is very synth focused with long drawn out sounds creating a befitting atmosphere that feels open and space-like – very aptly fitting its title. The inclusion of heavy guitar riffs and strong percussion as the track progresses gives the sound a solid grounding without losing the drama of the synths. Geirmund Hansen’s vocals soar and blend seamlessly with the synth tones used which further enhances the power of the track. The guitars sound very dense with a somewhat muted effect which is quite interesting to see. This compliments the rest of the instrumentation as it doesn’t interfere with the echo or reverb on the synths and keys. This doesn’t lessen the effect – the heavy aspect of the guitars provides a sense of movement and energy. Apollo is an incredibly strong opening to the album.
Universal Chaos is a dynamic track with an eerie sound. The heavy dissonant guitars, powerful machine-gun drumming and creepy synth motifs create a fantastic theatrical atmosphere. The guitar sound used is similar to that in Apollo but in this track, it has more prevalence. The combination of soaring vocals and a softer vocal style are fitting to the track and the album as a whole. The ability to develop an individual sound that carries through an album without becoming repetitive reveals the talent in Rendezvous Point’s song-writing. Pressure has a funk feel with the manipulation of time signatures and focus on the percussion. Some Leprous influences from drummer Baard Kolstad are suggested here, with the other instrumentation following the percussion in staccato, the verse feels very minimalistic. It also allows the melody line of the vocals to be clearly heard throughout. The contrapuntal melodies brought into the chorus break up the minimalistic verses without becoming over powering. The Fall also includes a non-standard time-signature which gives the track a powerful feeling of momentum. The marching effect builds throughout the track producing a theatrical piece. The outro of serene synth melodies greatly contrasts the heavy tones and forms an effective, if not unexpected ending.
The Takedown has a slight musical theatre vibe with the opening vocal style and accompanying instrumentation. Hansen’s vocals in this track soar and are somewhat reminiscent of Matt Bellamy’s vocals from Muse’s Absolution era. The accompanying piano melodies that run throughout the track also further evoke a sense of Muse’s style. That being said, Rendezvous Point’s sound does come through predominantly with the guitar tones and rhythmic patterns used. After this point the album takes an unexpected turn respecting the track organisation. Unfaithful has the feel of a hard rock track and is one of the more straightforward tracks, in terms of the instrumentation and arrangement, on the album. It is a good track with good energy but could be considered fairly generic sounding. It’s good to see Rendezvous Point experimenting with their style and incorporating a mix on this album however, it doesn’t quite fit. This feeling increases with the final two tracks, Resurrection and Undefeated. Both of these tracks are far more calm, progressive and experimental. The placing of these final tracks after something energetic, it feels like the album calms too suddenly, the ending to this album feels somewhat anticlimactic.
Rendezvous Point have produced a very strong album; they have incorporated so many styles and influences throughout their tracks whilst generally maintaining cohesion across the record. Minor aspects such as the track listing towards the end of the album doesn’t undermine the fact that all of the tracks on Universal Chaos have been executed to a high standard.
For fans of: Leprous, Karnivool, Porcupine Tree
Words by Holly Royle
‘Universal Chaos’ by Rendezvous Point is released on 24th May on Long Branch Records.