Scratching at the Surface

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Event is not your run-of-the-mill progressive metal band, especially when it comes to its studio albums. The band's third opus, Scratching at the Surface, pushes deeper again into the fusion of prog metal and modern rock idioms, pairing compressed harmony vocals and heavy riffs with atmospheric or droning guitars, electronic textures, and mood-enhancing studio wizardry. It would be easy for a group attempting such a style-bridging move to lose itself in pointlessly long tracks. Instead, Event has developed a talent for the punchy three-minute rocker. Scratching at the Surface packs 13 songs in under 50 minutes, each one of them a hard knocker. "Make Your Way" kicks things off with a strangely cut-up riff (it's stuttering, as if a connection were loose) -- a well-calculated moment of awkwardness. The middle of the album is particularly strong, with "Won't Come Loose," "Siren," and "Into the Fray" delivering highlights. The group is not as inventive and efficient in the lyrics department. Some topics ("Siren" for instance) have been beaten to death long ago. That said, this album will pleasantly puzzle and entertain fans of quirky prog metal in the vein of Ty Tabor's projects -- maybe even those still hooked on Faith No More's last two albums. ~ Fran├žois Couture, Rovi