Event Horizon is a progressive death metal band from Los Angeles, founded by guitarist and composer Max Sindermann. 2013 brought the release of a debut EP The Emancipation of Dissonance. The EP was fully written by Sindermann, with the help of vocalist Brandon Leigh.
Event Horizon returned this February with the release of sophomore EP titled A Nightmare of Symmetry. This time in a full band line-up comprised of Sindermann as guitarist and singer, guitarist David Cortes, bassist Vincent Medina and drummer Jacob Alves, the quartet has made a step further in what was the original mission of the band: creating progressive death metal with tons of classical influences. It has to be mentioned that Sindermann is trained in classical music, so that also speaks about the influences that can be heard in the music.
A Nightmare of Symmetry showcases more complex riffs and more originality due to the fact that the band is made of entirely permanent members. Many of Event Horizon‘s songs here enter incredibly melodic acoustic passages and give the listener a break from the huge metal riffs that pound eardrums. Sindermann screams intense, powerful metal growls and still shows his ability to sing clean, beautiful vocals when needed. Jacob Alves never falls into the metal stereotype of relying on double bass. While he does kick the double bass sixteenth in the climatic moments, he knows how to make a great metal drum feel without it. However, he and Vincent Medina serve as background and an undercurrent for the guitar riffing, which is nearly always the instrumental theme.
As far as the death metal section of the Event Horizon formula goes, the riffing is original, powerful, and tight. Often, the bass will follow the guitar riff if it isn’t a chordal riff. Lead guitar parts harmonize and create an extremely evil and dissonant aura about them. The harmonizations are mixed much better and often sit on top of the guitar riff, not heard unless the listener tries to find them. Typically, Event Horizon allows the riff to be heard by itself for a few repetitions with the lead guitar soloing before Sindermann enters with his powerful metal growling. When it is time for a full out guitar solo, whoever is soloing lets all hell break loose. He covers the entire fretboard and plays tastefully. Unlike so many metal guitarists, both guitars know how to make an enjoyable solo rather than playing as many notes as possible within 3 seconds. They usually extend the color tones (3rd, 7th, 9th, etc) of the chords and create jazzy melodies, or as close to a jazzy melody that a death metal band can get.
The melodic acoustic side of Event Horizon is in some ways better than their metal sound. The guitar patterns, again, are the instrumental theme, but the bass often creates a hidden countermelody with the guitar. Vincent Medina makes a much better bassist in this style than the metal, holding his own melodies and never succumbing to the guitar lines. Sindermann sings beautifully, and if Event Horizon produced an album entirely made of these dark, brooding acoustic passages, he would never be expected to be able to scream, let alone scream well. His tone is dark, warm, and round, like the perfect euphonium or tuba sound. The chord progressions are often dissonant and dark. The passages are reminiscent of riding horseback in a dark, quiet night.
Putting these two formulas together creates a full, epic release that sets the stage for the follow up and breakthrough album. There are no long songs on A Nightmare of Symmetry; two tracks clock around two minutes, and three songs are between 5 and 8-minute marks. Each song comes with a new energy and aura about them. Song formats never follow anything typical, and listening for the first time is often mind-blowing because of the unexpected climaxes, transitions, and virtuosity in every second of the EP. The acoustic passages make a much larger appearance on the record, being mostly the entire song in opening “Assymetrical” and “The Light That Carries Me.” Prog Death Metal mini-epic “Beyond the Fourth Wall” opens with a series of riffs, just to be intersected with another acoustic passage in the verse, followed with the opening melody.
“The Red Waltz” comes as yet another acoustic interlude. “First World Phenomenon” builds up to a sweet metallic end, but it has extremely gripping vocal lines, especially the chorus.
A Nightmare of Symmetry has a potential to put Event Horizon in the direction of becoming one of the greatest metal bands in the coming years. My recommendation would be to treat the EP as a single unit, under which circumstances it plays best, although individual songs can be satisfying. Each time I listen there is something new to discover — all in all, a story worth rereading.
2. The Light That Carries Me
3. Beyond the Fourth Wall
4. The Red Waltz
5. First World Phenomenon
* Max Sindermann – guitars/vocals
* David Cortes – guitars
* Vincent Medina – bass
* Jacob Alves – drums