Artist: The Gabriel Construct
Album: Interior City
Genre: Progressive, Rock, Experimental
Gabriel Riccio has crafted a difficult release in Interior City. By its sound, it would appear that it was difficult to create, but that same sound can make it difficult for a listener to fully grasp. With many unique elements weaved throughout some familiar ideas, The Gabriel Construct’s debut album is something mostly new but it may take you more than a few listens to appreciate it, if you have that kind of time and or patience.
Being fully immersed in a new concept that is roughly 72 minutes long, let alone multiple times, takes a lot of dedication, and Riccio knows this. He understands that his album may not be the most accessible material and he’s okay with that because he made it for himself, just as any form of art should be made. With that in mind, judging by the scope of Interior City, this was likely a massive step and relief for him to complete it. In that regard, this is an impressive passion project and Riccio’s ambitions and talents are blatantly evident throughout each of these 10 lengthy tracks.
Riccio has expressed that some people aren’t entirely fond of his vocal approach and while it certainly may not be immediately pleasing to a new listener, for me, they weren’t too much of a low point as I listen to bands such as Peeping Tom and Between The Buried and Me and have encountered similar styles often. At times they can be a bit distracting and seemingly unfitting to the accompanying music but there are other moments when they fit perfectly like in “Ranting Prophet” where Riccio seems to almost channel Serj Tankian around the 1:30 mark and flows cohesively with the music. If you’re not a fan of System Of A Down then this obviously would not appeal to you. However, in the same song, along with many others on the album, there’s almost too much happening at once in terms of layers and instrumentation, sometimes sounding like two tracks playing at the same time like when you’re listening to music on your computer and an ad pops up on another page and you can’t find where the hell it is. There are times when it makes for an interesting section of a song that works, but there are unfortunately more times when it just clashes with the coherency of the given track and makes for muddied and overwhelming production.
Apart from that, having recruited some impressive players to help out on the album, the instrumentation is ultimately pretty enjoyable. Travis Orbin’s (Darkest Hour, ex-Periphery) drumming is an obvious highlight but all musicians involved have moments where their prowess really shines, including the piano work from Riccio himself. Even in the moments that seem far too clustered in terms of sound, if you’re capable of picking apart each instrument, it should be rather impossible to not enjoy the work contributed. “Inner Sanctum” is one such track that has killer instrumental moments including saxophone from Soren Larson and violin courtesy of Riccio’s girlfriend, Sophia Uddin, who will also accompany him on violin in live settings.
I’m a sucker for a good concept and that is something that this album does indeed have. The lyrics which aptly relate to its cover are very interesting and express a story that keeps you involved. The obvious vision that is present in Interior City is arresting but as this material Riccio has created may get lost in translation for some, it can be difficult to fully understand and appreciate his work. I admittedly am one of those that don’t completely get it, even after a handful of complete listens in the most focused of settings. There are moments that I love but they are seldom and generally short-lived as they tend to be quickly interrupted by a section that is less appealing. I can definitely see where this could be a favorite record for some, but for me, it’s just too many ideas crammed into one space, even at its length. In that sense, the concept and cover art are further spot on because it is almost like walking around listening to the chaos of an entire city inside of you.
Review written by: Brian Lion – Follow him on Twitter
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