|Genre||Progressive Metal/Fusion (Funk Metal)|
|Release Date||17 May 2019|
Bouncing in with the funkiest fucking metal album I’ve heard in months is Step in Fluid with their latest effort, Back in Business. As the title suggests, it’s been a little while since the band have released any new material (nearly eight years, in fact). Which, let me tell you, is an incredible disservice to both fans and to them, because they are very good at the whole music-making thing. It’s a bit disappointing that the runtime on this album is so short, but the half hour we do get is so good that it’s a nonissue.
I’ve always thought that prog and fusion go hand-in-hand. When you look at what goes into either genre, you get two lists that look nearly identical: experimentation, improvisation, intricate songwriting, incredible technical proficiency, a whole bunch of shit thrown together in hopes that it works. The biggest differences between the two are the moods and that one utilizes metal instruments while the other uses jazz instruments. What we get when Step in Fluid steps in are plenty of bouncy grooves played by some of the meanest synth tones known to man, a pounding rhythm section, and a crunchy guitar to top it all off. It’s a funk album played by a metal band.
Or maybe not. The way that the bass, keys, and guitar move around the grooves is done with such proficiency that you can only really see them as jazz musicians. There are some exceptionally beefy basslines in ‘Streets of San Francisco’ and the guitar riffs and chunky keyboards make for some really great progressions. And don’t even get me started on these juicy fucking solos, because, whether it’s the guitar or the keys, they’re simply phenomenal.
The one instrument that could use a tweak or two would be the drums. Don’t get me wrong; the drumming on this album is fantastic. But, as it goes with metal, the drums are way too stiff with their grooves. The reason that jazz and funk drummers will almost always be a bit better than metal drummers is that they can float around within a verse very naturally without upsetting the grove, whereas metal drummers tend to get more locked in. It’s not like I think that the band’s drummer, Florent Marcadet, isn’t capable of playing like this, because there are moments when he hits some seriously impressive grooves and his fills are super jazzy, he just doesn’t. That all being said, his shots are sharp and he is undoubtedly an excellent drummer.
Back in Business is short but has plenty of sweet to offer. There are some booty-shaking tunes (like the opener, ‘Booty Shake’), laid back tracks, slow-goers, and a constant feel-good energy that’s present throughout the album’s entirety. The songs are mostly built around a single progression or groove, as is standard in funk, but the band does more than enough with each one. A fun album like this should be enjoyed by all.
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