This is a great time for music types other than pop, so far as the album format is concerned. As pop music continues its trudge toward becoming a totally separate entity, single-contained and no longer conjoined within the album’s puzzle work, the field has been left open to other styles that rely specifically on such unification of theme and design, and unity from one song to the next. Progressive rock is one of those types, and is perhaps best-suited to benefit from having the scene-stealers of Top 100 Pop out of the way. It’s a bit of a surprise then that one of the most current releases to fully capitalize on the benefits of the album format should not originate from New York, California, or the U.K., but from Central New Jersey.
The Post-Human Condition, the second release from the group No More Pain, is pretty intent on letting you know you’ll have to be more engaged than you ordinarily would. The cover of the release shows an omniscient computer monitor in the shy with a demonic eye surveying humans tumbling out of it, slowly evolving into sheep as they fall. The narrative, while not performed in broad, rock-opera strokes, does relate to the last “untethered” man who awakes in a world overrun by technology. You probably couldn’t get more album-oriented than that in the digital age. (Bonus points for irony because you’re reading this review on your cellphone or computer.)
The band No More Pain has a long reach into the past as far as its influences are concerned. At one moment you might catch some Gabriel-era keyboard flourishes, or a Floyd groove, or a Kansas vibe, but then things swing into a heavy, Dream Theater sort of form. These touchstones never linger for too long, and never get in the way of the music, even as it extols its virtues. More importantly, even though there are longer songs to be found on the disc, there’s apparent compositional control taking place as well. In English: the songs are long when they need to be, and not because that’s what the genre demands.
That said, the CD concludes with the multi-part “The Network.” I’m hesitant to describe it as an “epic,” which has lately become dirty code for “just a really long pastiche of songs with no real reason for being so long.” In fact, each section of The Post-Human Condition has a sense of purpose, and things aren’t being tossed in merely to make things longer. The listener feels that there’s a reason for it all to be there.
And that reason is, in part, a high level of musicianship. If potential listeners are turned off by that, and are more inclined for straight riff-rock styled music, this is not the CD for them. The band has seen a few internal changes since the recording of the CD, but the captured collaboration of Mike Roman (vocals, guitar), Matt McDermott (keyboards), John Moroney (bass), and Dan Rainone (drums) sounds far more accomplished than two CDs would presume to say. Even in the heavier portions, the songs never stop being melodic, even hooky.
Of course it isn’t for everyone, especially for those who start to get antsy when the track starts nearing the 3-and-a-half minute mark. But for anyone who required proof that there’s still a need and place for the album format, it has been delivered with The Post-Human Condition.
To find out more, visit: http://nomorepain.bandcamp.com/album/the-post-human-condition