Album Review: Long Distance Calling – Boundless

I’m an unabashed fan of what I’ve coined “instruMetal” (clever, aren’t I?), and I’ve never quite understood why more people don’t champion the genre to the extent that I do. I mean, it’s not like you can understand what metal bands are screaming most of the time, so is it really all that terrible if the vocals aren’t there at all? I think not. Get over it.

There’s no shortage of fantastic instruMetal options in the marketplace right now, making it even easier to get into the genre. Sure, your average metal fan probably has heard of Animals as Leaders by now, but for those looking to dig deeper there’s Cloudkicker, Polyphia, Scale the Summit, and Russian Circles, just to name a few of the best out there.

If I have one complaint about instruMetal (I’m really going to hammer that term home, so get used to it), it’s that bands can too often fall into the trap of trying to show off their guitar-wankery skills rather than just writing a decent song. We get it, you shred better than a snowboarder shoving a cheese grater through a paper shredder. Maybe focus on making a memorable track next time rather than a six-minute solo? Just a thought.

I was really excited for Into the Great Divide’s eponymous debut that came out last week, as it featured Dream Theater drummer Mike Mangini, but I couldn’t shake the idea that the album was just a group of loosely packed together solos rather than an album. While the record was bad by any means, it left me with a sour taste in my mouth thinking about the missed opportunity. My disappointment was short lived, however, as Long Distance Calling picked up the instruMetal slack with their most recent offering, Boundless.

There is no guitar-wankery on Boundless. The German post-rock outfit sounds less like Long Distance Callingyour usual instruMetal guitar wizards and more like a traditional band that laid down a perfect album before realizing that they forgot to write vocals. Believe me, I mean that in the best way possible. Boundless is amazingly catchy for an album without a single word uttered. The songs are lasting and memorable even without a single lyric to commit to memory.

With most of the tracks checking in well north of five minutes, Long Distance Calling have crafted a collection of complex, intricate, well-written tracks that serve both as easy listens and dissectible projects worthy of multiple listens. Combining the electronic tendencies of Animals as Leaders with progressive leanings reminiscent of Mastodon’s Crack the Skye, Boundless is a fascinating listen that has only gotten better with each subsequent run through the tracks.

While there’s always a glass ceiling on just how high an instruMetal album can rank in my book (just because I don’t understand the screams doesn’t mean that I don’t absolutely fucking love them!), Long Distance Calling have hit that theoretical boundary, and with a few more inspired listens may even reach heights I never that a vocal-less album could hit.

GRADE: A-

HIGLIGHT TRACKS

“Out There”, “The Far Side” “Weightless”

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