Hailing from Madrid and originally called Hybrid Blood, Spanish progressive rock quintet Pervy Perkin is a musical force to be reckoned with. Formed a few years ago, the group had seen plenty of line-up changes before settling on the current set; fortunately, they managed to stay organized, ambitious, and bold enough to release their expansive debut, ‘Ink,’ after only a couple years of writing and recording. A massive beast (it runs just under two and a half hours) broken into two discs/sections—“Book of Equinox” and “Book of Solstice”—, it’s a bit too lengthy and repetitive for its own good; still, it’s an immensely impressive first effort that effective channels influences like Dream Theater, Pink Floyd, Frank Zappa, Camel, System of a Down, Porcupine Tree, and Pain of Salvation into a sufficiently original concoction. Frankly, I haven’t been this blown away by a debut album in a long time.
The record starts off fittingly with “Opening Credits,” a wonderfully emotional, tasteful, and varied composition that stands as one of the best instrumentals I’ve ever heard. With sorrowful strings and choral chants, forceful percussion, intricate keyboard patterns, and horns that infer regality, the piece interweaves melodies, themes, and timbres brilliantly, creating polyphony that feels like a royal call to find one’s destiny. In a way, it also sounds like something Coheed and Cambria or IOEarth might’ve written, and there’s definitely a taste of classic Camel in the mix. Really, I can’t praise this piece enough.
The next track, “Of Echoes and Reflections,” fades in with sounds of the sea before recalling the chants. Afterward, the group builds up to a more typical prog aesthetic, with biting electric guitars, fiery rhythms, and dizzying keyboard flair combining to overwhelm. Vocally, Alex Macho fits in perfectly, offering a forceful yet delicate style that lies somewhere between James Labrie (Dream Theater), Ray Alder (Fates Warning), and Russell Allen (Symphony X). His voice isn’t especially unique or assertive, but it fits the music nicely, and he does hit some surprisingly high notes. In a way, “Of Echoes and Reflections,” like the entirety of ‘Ink,’ is a stylistic sibling to the work of Vandas Plas and Evergrey.
Other gems include the acoustic tranquility and funky playfulness of “The Tree in the Sky,” the quiet sorrow of “Falling from Earth,” the sheer intricacy and diversity of “Morphosis” (which, at twenty-six minutes long, is its own epic), and the spacy eccentricity of “Shades under a City Lamppost,” an industrial instrumental that recalls the magnificence of early Ayreon. The latter entry also fades into the hypnotically multifaceted “Far Away Crusade Defending the Colonies of Satellite A.T.L.A.S.,” a selection that demonstrates how great the group’s musicianship is.
Another epic, “T.I.M.E. (Part 3: The Sign on the Wall),” lasts over twenty minutes and begins with a male narrator reading a tragic love letter aloud. It’s a nice touch that makes the ensuring music and songwriting truly feel like the closing of a grand story. As you’d expect, the track goes through several sections, from a hellish beginning (with growls) to a more solemn and harmonic middle, and then to a finale that oozes progressive metal theatrics. Of course, there’s also “Epilogue,” which concludes the journey with a sense of closure thanks to its acoustic guitar strums, spacey atmosphere, and elusive development. It’s a much appreciated calm after a two hour storm, and it allows ‘Ink’ to fade away nicely.
As I said, the only real downside of ‘Ink’ is how much of it there is. At roughly 138 minutes in duration, it’s easily one of the longest albums I’ve ever heard, and it certainly feels like it at times. There isn’t enough variation in either the songwriting or instrumentation to warrant so much of it, so it’s easy to feel frustrated or distracted by how monotonous and familiar it can become. Nevertheless, there is an abundance of great moments throughout the LP, so as long as you’re prepared to set aside a couple hours to hear it all, you’ll find plenty to like.
All in all, ‘Ink’ is a masterful creation, plain and simple. It would be an amazing accomplishment for any progressive rock band, so the fact that it’s Pervy Perkin’s initial outing makes it that much more astounding. There’s a true sense of epicness here, as well as a level profundity and emotion that several of their more famous and experienced stylistic siblings never captured. If they’d cut down (or even split up) the amount of material here, the record would definitely be a stronger, more cohesive and memorable affair, but as it stands ‘Ink’ is still an extremely remarkable statement. Pervy Perkin has introduced itself with complexity and confidence, and I can’t wait to hear what they do next. If you’re a fan of the genre, you’d be wise to keep your eyes on them too.
*Note: This review was originally published by Rebel Noise.