If I have a favorite type of progressive metal, it's the type that's barely even metal at all -- and, at least in the modern era, my favorite progressive rock acts are the ones that are encroaching on metal territory so seamlessly the distinction starts to lose all meaning. Sadly, the slash in anything labeled "progressive rock/metal" tends to do a lot of heavy lifting - many times it just feels like bands rotate between the two modes as if flipping a switch. Still, there are exceptions: when a band does manage to bridge that divide thoughtfully, it's the slash-territory that hooks me.

Los Angeles supergroup Pineid practically exists only in this interstitial space, widening the gulf between 'rock' and 'metal' and harvesting their debut record Blue Doom from the bountiful, somewhat undefined space within.

Blue Doom wields heaviness as a part of a whole, never allowing aggression to fend for itself alone and yet never fully distancing itself, either. Sublime prog rock grooves meander into harrowing gulches, and blast beats transform into quiet, contemplative reflection: modeled after the forces of change that drive our lives, Blue Doom is a concept album prone to exciting shifts in demeanor.

At times, the album feels like an alternative history to the direction that heavy progressive music took in the last few decades. The first half of "The Tick," with its rousing chuggy riffs and ferocious vocals given an unusual sense of space and presence, could be extrapolated into an absolutely killer stoner-progressive metal album on its own.

However, given the band's pedigree (members of The Zappa Band, Dethklok, Phoenix Afrobeat Orchestra, and much more), trying to boil Blue Doom down to a few genre tags as a whole is essentially a worthless endeavor, but it must be said: the solid, ass-kicking heavy metal it contains is a critical feature. And yet, the interesting part is how heavy metal never seems to dominate or disappear entirely, always existing in concert with everything else the band has to offer.

Perhaps purposefully, this fits the album's theme perfectly: lives change without warning, and rarely are things all good or all bad. It's a solid concept to meditate on while listening to the album, but look, don't get too lost in thought -- you won't want to miss that sweet groove on "Everything to Now."

Stream the album in full below.



Vocalist/guitarist Jeff Sites, regarding the album's concept:

“I say this with some trepidation, but Blue Doom is a concept album [...]
It is about the things that cause us to make drastic changes in our lives. Some of it is prescriptive, some of it personal, some is paleoanthropology. Lyrically, I try to examine setting out, false destinations, trials, anxiety, forgiveness and plunging into certain death. The music oscillates between supporting this narrative, and serving as a reminder that all stories are simplifications and vulnerable to destruction at the hands of reality.”


Blue Doom releases August 26th via Sympatry Records.

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