Band: Piah Mater | Album: The Wandering Daughter | Year: 2018 | Genre: Progressive metal, Progressive rock, Death Metal
From: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil | Label: Code 666
For fans of: Opeth, Riverside, Porcupine Tree/Steven Wilson
Piah Mater are a Brazilian trio performing a style of progressive death metal highly reminiscent of Opeth’s classic material. That’s not an easy sound to execute, but these guys pull it off excellently. Had Mikael Åkerfeldt and his crew put this out, this would be hailed as Opeth’s best album since Watershed.
After the brief, idyllic opener, growls and aggressive, chugging death metal riffs take the spotlight and drive “Solace in Oblivion” forward. As is to be expected of a band so heavily drawing from Opeth’s sound, these extended pieces have frequent breaks of quiet jazz guitar and moments of soaring clean vocals. Many of the softer moments would not feel out of place on a Camel album. The narration on this song is pretty corny, but it’s a minor issue overall.
This pattern of snarling riffage gets a reprieve on “The Sky Is Our Shelter”. This song is one area where Piah Mater actually exceed Opeth. The latter’s ballads often feel tepid and uninspired, but this song slinks along with fluid guitar lines and warbling keys to create a calm yet tense piece of music. The eventual entrance of distorted instrumentation is impactful in a way rarely achieved in many metal ballads.
The closing epic “The Meek’s Inheritance” is another highpoint. Clean and growled vocals frequently swap the spotlight. The music rarely lets up in intensity, serving to augment the lyrical condemnation of human greed and its impact upon the world. After a brief jazz interlude, the song’s finale kicks into high gear. Haunting, echoing clean guitar arpeggios soar over the distorted foundation.
Not everything on this album is amazing, though. While the comparison to Opeth is mostly positive, it is also unavoidable. Piah Mater ape Opeth hard. The similarity at times is so uncanny it’s distracting, and it’s particularly egregious in the opening minutes of “Earthbound Ruins”. “Sprung from Weakness” doesn’t do much to stand out either, and all the longer tracks are undermined by poorly-developed moments, blurring together into an indistinct blob.
I’m looking forward to this band’s future output, but I also really hope they diversify their sound or do something to differentiate themselves. I like Opeth, and it’s fine to draw inspiration from them. But hearing a band that sound almost exactly the same sucks some of the fun out of discovering new music.