"In love with the illusion/Far from serenity," sings Nathan Alvarado on the signature cut, "Of the Sun," off this band's debut EP. If you're sensing a little philosophical angst here, you're not far off. The album's six tracks are connected by issues of self-doubt, spiritual searching, and the questioning of religious dogma: strangely appropriate territory for the kind of epic prog-metal Aperture makes. Alvarado certainly has the voice to pull it off with a soaring muscularity reminiscent of Chris Cornell. Indeed, a strong grunge thread runs through their music. Its grimy, bottom-end bristle balances the intricate skywriting, prog-guitar excursions, and slower power-ballad aspects. It's not an easy combination of elements to pull off, but this San Antonio/Austin quintet produce a remarkably seamless sound that blends drama and guitar theatrics without losing the driving, hard-rock pulse. Engineered and mixed by Kevin Butler in one four-day session at Test Tube Audio in Austin, the album is defined by its general infectiousness and the breakdown-laden, religion-questioning throbber "Reign in Me," which is not only the album's shortest track but its most focused and hardest-hitting. This is a very well crafted first effort. (Available as a free download from aperturesounds.com.)
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