Next to None – Phases
Label: EMP Label Group/InsideOut Music
Release Date: July 7, 2017
Hailing from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania, Next To None are set to release their sophomore album, Phases, which is a dynamic journey through brutal riffs, thunderous time-shattering beats, and melodies and musical themes that make the hair on your neck stand up. Twelve tracks coming to a 78-minute running time is rare these days. Bands simply are not often giving out so much music in one release. Each song seems carefully crafted and methodically determined with incredibly precise and tight musicianship. This is my first exposure to the band and instantly the musician in me is thoroughly impressed with the prowess each player presents.
The band’s core consists of drummer Max Portnoy (yes, that’s Mike’s son – and he’s soon going to rival his fathers skills – having already won “Best New Drummer of 2015” from Rhythm Magazine) along bassist Kris Rank, and vocalist/keyboardist Thomas Cuce. Rounding out the line-up is new guitarist Derrick Schneider, who makes his recording debut on Phases, having come to the band at the suggestion of Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal. There is no shortage of talent in this group. Each member comes with an already impressive musical resume despite them all being fairly young. I see amazing potential for this band!
After kicking off with a short atmospheric intro “13”, the album is quick to jump into the fury. “Answer Me” sets the tone of the album and within the first 60 seconds of the track you know you’re in for a ride. It’s followed immediately by the album’s first single, “The Apple”, which has an accompanying video featuring the band doing a play-through of the song in an apple orchard.
In true prog spirit there are a few epic length tunes on the album, including a near 20-minute closing opus, “The Wanderer”. One of the true highlights of this album, for me, is not necessarily a particular track, but more-so the overall dynamic flow of the entire release. Each song is a journey, but within each journey is a multitude of ideas and emotions that take the listener on a much deeper trip.
Next To None self-produced Phases, recording the drums in Nashville at Neal Morse’s Radiant Studios, and recording the rest at Cuce’s own Battery Powered home studio. Periphery bassist Adam ‘Nolly’ Getgood mixed Phases and the album is delivered with stellar sound and huge tones.
Ripe with jazzy breakdowns, piano driven melodic beauty and face-melting brutality, Phases is a refreshing new offering in the Progressive Hardcore genre.