Textures is a progressive metal band from the Netherlands that despite having two previous full length albums beginning with the critically acclaimed debut Polars, completely flew under my radar. Wow have I been missing out. Texture’s third full-length album Duality is an absolute shining beacon of impeccably crafted, envelope pushing, multi-genre progressive heavy metal that will be a permanent fixture in my album rotation for years to come.

There is simply no way to pin down Texture’s sound. There are literally countless influences from across the metal spectrum that permeates each and every song on display. There are elements of hardcore, black metal, post metal, avante-garde, death metal, thrash… the list goes on and on. With that said, progressive metal will have to suffice. “Arms of the Sea” begins with a slow build of percussion and triumphant guitars that eventually come to a halt with some odd time hardcore riffs. We are introduced to the enthusiastic growls of new vocalist Daniel de Jong, who is effective in channeling raw anger in a precise, controlled manner. The clean vocals soon follow, and are equally as effective with solid highs and interesting melodies, the closest comparison being something off a Protest the Hero album. “Black Horses Stampede” draws strong inspiration from mid-era Opeth releases, with some crushingly dark, heavy guitars backed by mid tempo, occasionally explosive drums that hearken back to the Swede’s Black Water Park.

“Reaching Home” is a predominantly groovy track that serves are a fairly accessible outing (even a band like Textures needs one or two). Lots of catchy clean vocals and memorable, almost joyous melodies that really make the listener feel uplifted, contrary to the rest of the album. “Sanguine Draws the Oath” is a marvel to behold, with seemingly endless time signature changes rapidly slapping the listeners expectations to the ground, with some deliciously technical percussion punctuating an equally impressive lead guitar that blends harmoniously with the schizophrenic song structure. “Consonant Hemispheres” really draws on the post metal influences, sounding remarkably like a God Is An Astronaut song with the addition of soft, crooning vocals and a bit more enthusiastic drum work. The wholly instrumental “Burning the Midnight Oil” follows, and serves as a fantastic breather from the relentless aggression of the songs that came before.

As if to make up for the momentary reprise, we are treated with “Singularity,” an absolute behemoth of a track with some vicious, skull smashing heaviness that also happens to be the longest song on the album. It is a monster, and probably my favorite song on display. “Minor Earth, Major Skies” is another heavy one, with blistering, frenetic leads complimented by the ever shifting rhythmic chaos. The way the soothing lead melodies play off of the ferocious vocals is particularly awe inspiring on this song, and the inclusion of some spoken words towards the latter half really help to build momentum. “Stoic Resignation” begins all guns blazing with utterly blistering time changes and relentless snare drum blasting, soon shifting into an extended buildup that leads to a beautiful passage where the clean vocals shine, with enchanting melodies that really tug at the emotional triggers in a way no other song on the release does.

“Foreclosure” is another slow, instrumental prelude to the final track. It serves really as the first two minutes of “Sketches of a Motionless Statue,” both of which blend together to create an expectedly effective conclusion, with the band’s now standard mind boggling musical twists and turns reaching a shattering climax. The harsh vocals give way at last to the cleans, and the song ends abruptly with soaring melodies and powerful percussion. Production wise, this is a gorgeous sounding progressive metal album. It’s always tough to balance the usual pristine production needed to get the most out of a highly technical release, with the extreme metal tendencies that some of these genre-fusing groups go for. Textures have succeed on all fronts, and each instrument is clear and precise without sacrificing heaviness. Simply put, Duality is an astounding album, one that every metal head needs to invest their money, and most importantly, time into. It is an exhausting, epic, memorable journey, one you will not regret taking.