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As much as the avid music fan can endeavour to discover as much innovative and finely written music as possible, let’s face it, with the amount of bands and musicians out there, there are just some that unfortunately slip through your net. But when you do unearth them, and you find something truly special, what an amazing and wonderful feeling that is. Thomas Giles (or Tommy Rogers as he is more commonly known; Giles being his middle name) is the keyboard player and lead vocalist from American prog-metal band Between the Buried and Me (a band that have completely slipped through my musical net until now), and what he has created here is nothing short of an absolute piece of pure musical joy and genius, and one that leaves you feeling privileged to have graced your ears and emotions with. Just as the likes of Devin Townsend and Steve Wilson are highly respected by fans and fellow musicians for not only their musical ability on their main instrument, but also in terms of multi-instrumental and vocal skills, diversity in songwriting styles and production and mixing skills, Thomas Giles easily sits as a promising and worthy addition to this musical elite, with ‘Pulse’ being an entirely solo effort, in every aspect, playing every instrument you hear on the album himself, and being responsible for all the vocals, compositions and production. From the first electronic pulsing beat of ‘Sleep Shake’ and it’s almost cinematic and highly orchestrated swoops from delicacy to immense aural power, with vocal essences of somewhere between Pink Floyd and Jon Crosby from VAST, Thomas effectively has the listener in his grasp, to lead you through this epic and powerful journey of ‘Pulse’, a collection of songs inspired by Thomas’ thoughts and experiences over the years. The driving, pulsing momentum then continues through to the more sombre ‘Reverb Island’, with crisp acoustic guitar, underlying electronica and further exploring Thomas’ immense vocal versatility, of which the latter is apparent throughout the album, ranging from the close-falsetto of ‘Mr Bird’ to the stark screamed growls in ‘Catch and Release’, a purely electronic track somewhat reminiscent of the EBM-styling of Covenant and yet in other respects akin to the progressive electronic elements of Ulver. Sure, there is a great variation in song styles on ‘Pulse’, from the sweet acoustic feel of ‘Scared’ and ‘Armchair Travel’, to the dark electronic industrial stylings of ‘Catch and Release’ and ‘Reject Falicon’, to the epic prog-metal leanings of ‘Medic’, but the flow of ‘Pulse’ works so well, and this disparity works to great effect in keeping you totally immersed in the music. The differences in song styles also engenders an additional inherent bonus to the cross-genre appeal of ‘Pulse’, meaning that it will be hugely appealing to fans of a vast range of artists, whether you be a fan of the prog-rock leanings of Muse, Radiohead or Porcupine Tree; the epic experimental metal of Devin Townsend or Cynic; or the electronic aspects of Ulver for example; and for those with a wide variation in musical taste, this is simply perfection embodied. This, in addition to the entrancing songwriting, flawless production and the layer upon layer of sonic beauty, makes ‘Pulse’ an incredibly addictive album, one that I simply cannot find fault with and one that, in a sense, words cannot effectively describe the effect that this album has upon the listener. I defy anyone with any appreciation of music not to find something they adore in this masterpiece.
Metal Blade
Review by Hannah Sylvester
31st January 2011
1) Sleep Shake
2) Reverb Island
3) Mr Bird
4) Catch & Release
5) Hamilton Anxiety Scale
6) Scared
7) Reject Falicon
8) Medic
9) Suspend the Death Watch
10) Armchair Travel
11) Hypoxia
"I defy anyone with any appreciation of music not to find something they adore in this masterpiece."