One of the reasons progressive rock lost popularity in the 1980s was that there weren’t very many new, young bands that took up the prog mantel once some of the older groups retired or became stale. Thus is makes me very happy when I come across young prog bands in this today, and it gives me hope for the genre in the coming years.
Audio Insight is one of those young bands. Hailing from the great state of New Jersey (which no one is allowed to mock on A Prog Blog), this trio has laid a solid foundation with their first album Dimensions.
The first thing that struck me about Audio Insight is how mature they sound for their age, both in terms of the band member’s actual ages as well as the lifespan of the band. Already they’ve figured out how to strike a good balance between showing off their chops and maintaining a good feel for the structure of their songs, something that many older prog bands continue to struggle with. Instead of sounding self indulgent and amateurish, Audio Insight impresses me with an album that sounds like the 3rd or 4th by professional musicians, and not the first album by a trio of college students.
Another pitfall that Audio Insight manages to avoid, one that I see a lot of young bands on the heavier side of the prog spectrum fall into, is the use of nondescript and interchangeable riffs that make tracks boring and forgettable. Instead of crafting interesting melodies, a band will simply down-tune themselves into oblivion and push out something guttural and indecipherable. On Dimensions, this is not the case. Each track has its own identity, and it’s seems like the two years spent writing and recording were two years of actual time and effort. Audio Insight majors in a modern form of prog metal that is both heavy and melodic, which is a difficult balance to maintain even for established groups. The group’s sound has a mainstream appeal that will attract fans from similar genres, but material is varied enough that it should still please fans rooted in more stereotypical prog metal.
Audio Insight wears their influences on their sleeve, and fans of Coheed and Cambria will either love or hate the group for this. While this similarity doesn’t particularly bother me, seeing as it’s the group’s first release, I’m hoping that the band is able to create a more distinct identity for themselves with future releases. I think the group has a lot of potential, and I’d hate for that to be dismissed simply because fans might see them as a C&C clone. Also, like a lot of prog, the vocals will most likely be a polarizing aspect of Audio Insight’s sound. The vocals aren’t bad by any means, but if one was to listen to just the vocal track, you might think you were listening to Fall Out Boy or similar bands.
The result of all of these characteristics is a heavy, high-energy, easily accessible form of prog that will appeal to younger audiences and hopefully some open-minded veterans as well. I think this group has a ton of potential if they can continue to evolve, using this strong first offering as a launching point. They’re playing February 13th at The Stone Pony in Asbury Park, NJ for the chance to play at the Bamboozle festival later this year. Go support them, New Jersey music, and young prog musicians all in one fell swoop.