Denmark’s Boil have been plying their particular take on prog-metal for the best part of a decade now. “aXiom”, their latest album, will cement their reputation in their homeland with ease, and will probably broaden their audience in new territories as well, as they seem to have honed their schtick pretty effectively with an album that drifts between the atmospheric to melancholic and to out and out rock and back again, often with consummate ease.
If you have spent any of the last decade listening to Tool, A Perfect Circle or Katatonia, then you have more than an idea of what’s in store for you- Boil deliver well crafted prog metal songs and deliver them with a minimum of fuss and maximum of operational efficiency. If that sounds like damning with faint praise then that’s unintentional- what I like about Boil in general and “aXiom” in particular is that, whilst they understand the rules around dynamics and epic sounding musical narratives, none of the songs here outstay their welcome- on the contrary, the album zips along with pace, energy and an undeniable ear for melody within their powerhouse riffing.
Close adherents of prog metal will know that bands can sometimes disappear up their own basslines with overly technical flourishes and obscure time signatures. You will be pleased to hear that you get none of that on “aXiom”- au contraire, there is a strict adherence to the rules of songwriting with bridges, choruses and guitar solos. That’s right: tunes! Who knew?
There is much to like and warm to here- whether it’s the punch in the face immediacy of ‘At the Center of Rage’, the absurdly catchy ‘Moth to a Flame’, or the Tool facsimile that is ‘Sever the Tie’, the band seem to strike a decent balance between rock, metal, prog metal and deliver it without any self-regarding pomposity, a trait that can hamstring many. There’s a hardworking honesty running through the record that is endearing and whilst not all the record captures the imagination or the memory like the aforementioned songs, there’s nothing that massively offends. Having said that, there is one further bit of aural magic. Closing track, the melancholia drenched ‘Almost a Legend’ gives vocalist Jacob Lobner a chance to give his pipes free reign and he does with not inconsiderable passion. It’s a nice sign off point.
Let’s not be disingenuous about this: Boil are not in the same league as Tool or Katatonia but I suspect they know this. Notwithstanding, “aXiom” is a good record made by a band who know exactly what they want to achieve with their art and have pretty much delivered it with “Axiom”. An unexpected and minor triumph, then.