Whilst Progressive Metal is an overcrowded scene, it is undeniable that there is a depth and range within its ranks of late, arguably the most it has ever showcased. New soundscapes and directions are being explored and virgin terrains conquered, with even tried and tested ideas being given new shades and colours. With a well-received debut album and resulting tours across USA with the likes of Trapt, where do relative newcomers Source find themselves with album number two?
The comparisons to Tool will follow Source and new album Totality (Pavement) around like a bad smell, but it is a stink(fist) that they will find really hard to shake off in this instance. Totality doesn’t quite share that explorative streak nor that sense of psychedelia that Tool possess, but strongly mirrors tones (atmospheric and literally guitar tone at times) and riff structures.
Album opener and lead single ‘Benjamin’ is an infectious and bouncy effort that supplies strong hooks and vocal passages, whilst the following ‘Sinking’ then dips firmly into that Tool ballpark with a considerably moodier and lower feel.
As the album progresses, it becomes clear that Source have few other tricks up their sleeves with the unwavering feeling that you have heard it all before. Some kudos must be given for the therefore unexpected mostly acoustic, beautiful interlude of ‘Between’ and for attempting a curveball late on in the album, but the remainder returns to the previous patterns.
There are subtle signs of latter-day Nu-Metal in the earlier sections of ‘The Witness’ as well as more expansive alt-Metal such as the preceding ‘Intimacy’, but these also feel shadowed by overt Tool worship. Even the vocals of Benjamin Gleason sound uncannily like Maynard Keenan in range and delivery. This unshakeable comparison means Source lack a strong sense of identity of their own, even more so following the recent release by Soen, who have arguably managed to shake off their own Tool-adjacent reputation.
Totality does demand some plaudits when it does hit the right notes, and Gleason is the album’s strongest presence with some dynamic and emotive execution, however, with the Progressive and Alternative Metal scenes being in such a strong state of health right now, Totality seems to lack too many ideas of its own, and is the sound of a band trying to capitalize on a certain niche but unfortunately failing to plant their own flag in the ground.
6 / 10