The Storm Picturesque – Arrival (2013)


The day is upon us: extraterrestrial invasion. The figurative “end of days” which has been so oft addressed by countless science fiction movies, novels and enthusiasts waits impatiently at humanity’s porch, ready to kick in the door. How do you respond? Do you sit, cowering inside, sucking your thumb and awaiting demise? Or do you ready yourself for war–prepare to fight tooth and nail for those you love and for all of mankind? Newcastle’s finest in progressive, hard-hitting and groove-packed deathcore, The Storm Picturesque are far from the former. With razor sharp riffs, pummeling percussion, visceral vocals and vicious grooves, Arrival is armed to the teeth, ready to prevent the hostile takeover of Earth – and poised perfectly to take over the listener’s head in the process.

Arrival storms into action from the very get go. “Arrival,” the first track of The Storm Picturesque’s debut album, doesn’t play coy, and is far from shy. Opening with a gyrating, hard-to-follow groove and a full-blown vocal onslaught, the listener gets a fantastic idea of what is in store for them as the album progresses. Looping, twisting and turning guitars run circles around the sturdy, triumphant bass lines, while the band’s pounding, pervasive drumming pushes the album forward. While, for the most part, the album moves fluidly, in a linear manner from riff-centric segments to hard-hitting grooves which decay into blistering, crushing breakdowns, there are some exceptions that throw a wrench in the works. These moments, like the conclusion of “By Design,” catch the listener completely off guard. One second, the guitars and bass seem lost adrift in an ethereal, sky-bound shred session, only to be brought crashing back down to earth with an absolute sneak-attack of a breakdown that will blow the listener clean out of their seat. A similar phenomenon occurs in the opening seconds of “Observing Polarities,” which, fittingly enough to the name of the track, operates at extreme ends of the band’s spectrum. One second, there is a fluid, unstoppable groove that seems as if it could go on for days, only to be cut short by a jarring, jolting and awe-inspiring Edenic series of solos and furiously-fretted riffs.

The instrumentation, which is undoubtedly a major component of The Storm Picturesque’s song structure, is not the only factor worth considering when one listens to Arrival. Vocally, there is a simply jaw-dropping amount of diversity on this album which fits, once more, with the intergalactic concept that drives it. “Arrival” kicks off with a barrage of harsh, mid-range shouts which quickly establish themselves as the album’s norm. However, by the time Arrival is half-way over with, the listener has been subjected to nearly every kind of vocal attack imaginable. Whether it’s the crippling, piercing highs, or low bellowed growls, there are a wide range of screams which make themselves known throughout the album. However, where the harsh vocals are heavy and grating, there is a soothing, clean vocal croon which also makes a series of concerted cameos throughout Arrival. Indeed, The Storm Picturesque include just enough of a clean vocal element to add the extra “space groove” feeling to the release–furthering the atmosphere which drives the album both conceptually and instrumentally. These clean vocals often find themselves playing brilliant, back-and-forth, cat-and-mouse style games with the band’s programming and softer-strummed instrumental elements, giving the listener brief moments of rest in between intergalactic assaults of seemingly unending heaviness.

The Storm Picturesque quickly establish an effective, galactic dynamic which ultimately sells the album more than any one of it’s respective parts. Sure, the heavy parts are heavy, the programming is cool and the vocals and lyrics are great, but altogether, the album is completely immersive. Arrival tells a story not just with words and lyrics, but with its instrumental elements. As the album continues, the riffs harmonize more and get darker and heavier, where the sampling and programming gets more invasive and finds itself working more into each song’s respective structure. “Ghost” is evidence of this, as is the album’s climactic, epic track, “Written in the Stars.” These tracks, especially when compared to “Arrival” and “By Design” have a much more technical and intense dynamic which drives them. This is by no means an allusion to the early portion of the album being shallow, or even two-dimensional, it is simply just detailed in a different way. Where the latter parts of Arrival focus more on keeping the listener engaged, the opening parts of the album reach out and ensnare the listener. How better a way to do this than reach out and grab them with sheer, sharp and vicious heaviness?

Stand up and fight for what you believe in. After all, isn’t that what humanity is all about? Pride, glory, and the right to exist? While you’re at it, let The Storm Picturesque’s Arrival be your soundtrack. Packed with driving, pounding grooves, hammering, skull-splitting breakdowns and catchy, remarkably technical riffs, every element of the band’s immersive dynamic is functioning at full steam, creating a positively encapsulating, atmospheric experience for the listener.