Album Review: Plank – Future of the Sea

Band: Plank | Album: Future of the Sea | Genre: Progressive rock, Math rock | Year: 2023

From: Todmorden, UK | Label: Golden Lion Sounds

For fans of: The Physics House Band, Kylver


After nearly a decade of silence, British math/progressive rock band Plank (alternately stylized as Plank! on Spotify) returns with a new record. Their last release was 2014’s Hivemind, an insect-themed album with some absolutely killer tracks on it. “Grasshoppers from Mars” demonstrated the band’s ability to be flashy yet catchy and melodic, and “Khepri” was a beautiful example of how to execute a build-up. 

Their new release, Future of the Sea follows in a similar sonic palette. This instrumental record is built around weird, complicated riffs, where both crunchy guitar and glimmering synths get their chance to shine.

“Three Seascapes” opens the record up with a steady groove and some slightly-irregular guitar arpeggios. Lush synth pads and a piercing lead guitar add to the depth of this piece. The synth pad has a mournful tone to it, whereas the lead guitar has a more hopeful feel. “Dead Zone” fittingly has a more shambolic feel to it. A sequencer and ragged guitar riffs kick things off, and it eventually coalesces into a driving, downward riff for a moment before again slowing down. The rhythm is often plodding and off-kilter, giving it a zombielike cadence.

“Red Tide” has a main riff that’s simultaneously taut and laid-back, and the layers of different keyboard tones complement each other quite nicely. I’ll also take the time here to point out that Plank knows how to keep their focus. Many other instrumental acts tend to sprawl and meander, but each cut on this record feels like it’s an appropriate length.

The opening to “Volta Do Mar” is gentle and dreamy. The guitar line is delicate, so when the song lurches into a moment influenced by post-metal, the sudden heaviness hits that much harder. Violins enter in the song’s second half, bringing in a folky gentleness.

“Longshore Drift” has a nearly-synthwave-y tone to it, but Plank makes it work. Sequenced synths run up and down as the rhythm section plods along. With so many elements repeating over and over, the movement comes primarily from the dynamic drumming and the shifting of the chords played by the synth pad. Proceeding into its second half, though, guitar takes the spotlight, and the piece has a rather sunny, hopeful tone.

Future of the Sea closes on the six-part, 16-minute “Breaking Waves” suite. Its opening is ominous and creepy. The guitar arpeggio is haunting, and the occasional harmonic adds to the disorienting atmosphere. This introduction builds momentarily to a bruising, metallic riff, before returning to the prior understated eeriness. Following a brief, meditative passage, the band engages with some folk influences for a little while.

As this piece enters its second half, there’s a tense, palm-muted guitar line. The piece remains somewhat restrained, but the occasional splash of bright clean guitar adds some lovely textural contrast. Moving on, the haunting mood of this suite’s opening movement is revisited in an even more-sinister way. Entering the final part, Plank leans into some thrash metal influence here. The guitars are energetic and crunchy, and the drumming is propulsive. The guitars momentarily reduce in prominence before reemerging for a powerful conclusion.

Future of the Sea is a great record. Instrumental acts often struggle to win me over, but these guys are skilled enough songwriters to overcome that. Though not quite as strong as Hivemind, this album still has tons of great musical ideas, and I like the sonic continuity between all the cuts. The riffs are tight, inventive, and engaging; and the album as a whole is structured very well.

Score: 83/100

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s