Album Review: The Benzene Ring are “Crossing the Divide”

Today we discuss the hard-to-categorise, mood-enticing work of The Benzene Ring. Hailing from New York, The Benzene Ring is probably most easily described as a progressive metal band. Much like progressive bands, The Benzene Ring focuses on full-length releases spaced by a few years. With their second full-length release, Crossing the Divide, The Benzene Ring have created an album that fans of Neurosis, Sunn O))), Porcupine Tree, King Crimson, Weather Report and TesseracT will revel in. Crossing the Divide is a twelve-track work that is more massive than advertised.

Possibly the most baffling and profound experience found on Crossing the Divide is the double takes that the listener is forced into. On the second track “Jerks in the Obsolaire” and the final track, “(…),” a wavering vocals are used when combined with the sparse instrumentation, mimics the mood and sound of Radiohead. I mention this to give you an idea of the diversity and breadth of influences and moods throughout Crossing the Divide. The band has been able to draw from across all genres, even outside the metal world, and flawlessly intertwine those references with their sound.

Crossing the Divide

On the fifth track, “Alarms,” The Benzene Ring shows that they can hit drone levels of ambiance. It’s that fluidity that keeps the album cruising along despite it’s twelve tracks. The Benzene Ring’s ability to edit; to leave out vocals and let the negative space step to the forefront is another mark of their success. Conversely, when vocals are necessary to fill space, The Benzene Ring does so carefully and didactically adding yet another layer to their constantly developing sound.

Crossing the Divide might fall into a label of some post-progressive metal musically, but the album provides plenty of emotion, surprise and excitement. Throughout the album, ideas constantly develop, carry over from track to track and eventually resolve into melting beauty. Twelve songs spanning almost 80 minutes feels almost like a successful therapy session as the album fades out leaving you emotionally wrecked but hopeful for the future. It is, in that way, an interactive experience. You will find yourself humming along, bobbing your head and potentially slowly rocking back and forth with your eyes closed. Enjoy it, it’s not everyday that an album like this comes along.

Get Crossing the Divide here.