March 1, 2014 by Dan Swinhoe
Concept albums are always tricky territory for progressive-leaning bands. A concept album strung out into two albums risks becoming an overindulgent snorefest very quickly. Luckily Brazilian four-piece Dynahead have side-stepped this pitfall to make a beast of a part II.
Chordata II is the second instalment in a two-part conceptual piece based on biological evolution. The first was a massive step up from previous albums – moving on from being an ambitious thrash outfit to include a palate of Djent, progressive melodies, latino rhythms and even the odd pop-sensibility at times. This self-produced sequel mostly picks up where pt. I started; fusing crushing Mushuggah Djent with progressive rock melodies and thrash, jazz, folk and whatever else they fancy.
Clocking in at 40 minutes but with only five tracks, the record hinges on the 20 minute epic Kode. A hugely impressive track that constantly shifts from one end of the musical spectrum to the other, rarely letting the listener get to grips with whats going on. Swinging from almost death metal territory to piano-led jazz and back to crushing groove, then onto Crowbar-esque sludge and Exhorder-reminiscent thrash and more besides, combining the heaviness of Meshuggah with the musical complexity of Ghost Reveries-era Opeth. It’s ambitious, exhausting, massive, and a great listen.
Though far from it, the other tracks seem short and basic in comparison. Opener Jugis flips between squealing riffs and off-kilter drumming to soaring clean melodies before including a horn section that you’d normally associate with Devin Townsend’s bizarre output, while Legis combines clean vocals with big staccato riffs before unleashing a flurry of guitar solos. Numinous ends the record on a lighter note. An unplugged, laid back number that quietly closes a an unpredictable roller coaster of a listen.
On the whole pt. II feels more melodic. There are still plenty of heavy parts, but the melodies are bigger than on the last record, and so often leave more of an impact. And as good as it may be, the problem with centring half an album around song means the whole record is that it’s not as instantaneous. The lack of a Collective skin or Bred Patterns style song means this is more of an investment when you listen to it. It’s rewarding though, and a fine follow-up. Well worth your time.