With 20 minutes of rhytmic shifts, technical know-how, and an aspiring approach, Bird Problems easily deliver one of the freshest prog metal records in 2020. Beyond The Nest is a must-listen for every fan of The Safety Fire or The Contortionist.
Sometimes your Spotify algorithm perfectly knows what you’re looking for. It was a lucky coincidence that I found Bird Problems – lucky because their new EP Beyond The Nest is simply one of the freshest prog metal releases I’ve heard in a long time. It was their single “Pigeon Superstition” that totally blew my mind. It’s incredibly groovy while also featuring some great melodic components within that groove. Apart from the instrumental madness, the band’s singer truly knows how to manage his voice.
Ethereal-sounding clean guitars open the song in a way that instantly reminded me of The Contortionist, while the groove on bass and drums enters in a very, well, groovy way. On top of that are the vocals, which absolutely nail the high falsetto notes. It’s pure joy to listen to that voice – the melodies are phrased so well, and sung so fittingly. Straight after the short intro section there’s this progressive transition similar to old The Safety Fire songs, which is mainly due to its hectic pace, uncommon time signature, and melodic escapades. Bird Problems stay within this style and transition into a section that is so The Safety Fire, one might get over the fact they broke up.
“Cold Turkey” again starts with this ethereal, The Contortionist-esque mood that was omnipresent on their Intrinsic record. Jazzy guitar chords are put in contrast with short, chuggy grooves, while the rhythmic metre is just getting pushed through the time signatures. It’s with a slight touch of confusion that one gets through this song, which seems to constantly modulate its rhythmic compulsions. Some punctuated synthesizers create a polyrhythm over a groovy break, before another rhythm-heavy drum and bass section begins. There’s also a guitar solo to keep this instrumental section incredibly exciting, only to culminate in a rousing chorus. At times, Bird Problems sound similar to Denmark’s own Cold Night For Alligators, especially their latest record Fervor.
In comparison to “Pigeon Superstition”, “Cold Turkey” is a rather melodic, quirky, and rhythmic song that carries some balladesque vibes instead of focusing too much on the metal side. Again, the singing is the band’s peak achievement. “Quaila” stays in this calm pace as well, putting a similar focus on rhythm. The drum work is outstanding, especially when it comes to accentuation, and shows a very good knowledge of rhythmic modulation and experimentation, as well as a very unique playing style.
“Jerk Chicken” somehow picks up the heavy aspects of “Pigeon Superstition”, starting with a heavy guitar riff, shouts, and a smashing, djenty aesthetic, which soon resembles No Consequence’s early work. Once again, some synthesizers create a very Intirisic-y mood that has this strange and mysterious feel. Together with the ethereal singing, Bird Problems are able to create some great momentum and let all their demons out within the heavy breaks.
You’ll find that “Jerk Chicken” delivers hectic pacing and the heaviest chugs that are found on Beyond The Nest. In comparison to “Cold Turkey”, the song is way more straightforward and easier to follow, but also features a lot of little details within the rhythm section. It also has a very atmospheric, emotional clean section that culminates in another guitar solo and a swinging drum beat, slowing down the hectic pace. It all culminates in one final chorus.
If Bird Problems would play instrumental prog metal, they would be one of the top bands around these days. But thanks to the fact that their vocalist has such a unique timbre and a perplexing control of it – he absolutely nails every single note! – they become one of the freshest prog metal acts of today.
It’s been a while since modern prog metal was this fresh, authentic, and good. The birdy image makes Bird Problems seem a little weird, but their music is simply beyond that. Beyond The Nest is a great deal of music, and if it hints at the quality of a potential full-length record, we can expect something huge! Fans of The Contortionist, and The Safety Fire should take their chance and listen to this short but sweet masterpiece. Otherwise, you’re missing out on an absolute prog metal highlight of this year.