Advocacy - The Path Of Decoherence

Artist: Advocacy

Album Title: The Path Of Decoherence

Label: UPRISING! Records

Date of Release: 19 January 2024

When there’s a debut progressive metal album thrust under my nose, that references Haken, Dream Theater, and Threshold in the accompanying press release, you’ve got my attention. Then, add a striking piece of artwork that’s been created by band guitarist Søren Wind. And, finally, casually drop into conversation that the band in question hail from Denmark. Put this all together, and you’ve done just about everything possible to ensure that I feel utterly compelled to take a listen. So I did.

The band are Advocacy, and this debut record that follows up on a couple of EPs, is entitled ‘The Path Of Decoherence’. It features eight songs that span around 48 minutes, and lyrically, the quintet cover all sorts of issues from existentialism, to more grounded and tangible societal matters. The fact that Advocacy also touch upon “the stormy depths of the human mind” is rather apt because ‘The Path Of Decoherence’ certainly makes you think, pay attention, and grapple a little with the music that’s on offer. Indeed, whilst not being so utterly complicated that it turned me off immediately, the music here certainly tests the listener.

It’s very obvious from a first spin, that drummer Adreas Bek Nygaard Hansen, guitarists Søren Wind and Peter Locher, bassist Peter Juelsgaard, and vocalist/guitarist Søren Kjeldsen are adept musicians with a background in progressive and jazz-based music.

It has taken many, many spins through of ‘The Path Of Decoherence’ to feel in any way confident about nailing my thoughts to any particular mast. However, with the release around the corner, it’s now or never. As I always try to make clear, as a failed musician with a technical knowledge that could fit on the head of a pin, I won’t try to deconstruct everything that’s going on within the music on this album…because I simply cannot. Instead, I approach it as a layman, and what I think about the music and how it makes me feel.

That said, ‘The Path Of Decoherence’ is most definitely a musician’s album because the technical ability is impressive across the band. Odd time signatures, unexpected juxtapositions, chops, solos, and an intelligent blend of jazz, prog, rock, and metal, is all wrapped up in a high-energy and strangely compelling record. Although I must admit I’m really not sure where the Threshold and Haken comparisons come from, because this is generally quite a different product. Yes, there are the occasional similarities, but to my ears, Advocacy are something of a unique proposition. If anything, I’m hearing the occasional hint of Andromeda and maybe Zero Hour rather than Dream Theater et al.

Nevertheless, putting that issue to one side, the album begins with the title track, a dramatic and cinematic instrumental piece which is much more than just a throw-away intro track. However, as soon as ‘Prayer For The Reckless’ kicks in, it is clear that Peter Juelsgaard’s bass playing is central to the Advocacy sound. Not only does it kick off the track in vibrant and commanding fashion, it maintains a central presence throughout the song, never stopping, always pulsing and dancing against the sound of sharp riffing, expressive drumming, and a vocal performance that grows stronger with each passing spin. Even at this point with several run throughs under my belt, it’s not an easy song to listen to, as there’s barely any let up throughout its eight-minute length, swirling relentlessly as it does from beginning to end. But the very subtle melodic embellishments do begin to take hold and make an impact, as do the lead guitar lines and passionate vocals. Indeed, I have really grown to like Søren Kjeldsen’s delivery, as it contains enough grit and strength to compliment the satisfyingly meaty crunch of the guitars in particular. At points, the chosen guitar sound has more than a hint of thrash about them, which I rather like.

Advocacy - The Path Of Decoherence

Returning to the subject of the vocals, however, ‘Leap Of Faith’ actually offers a smattering of gruff growling, just to add something a little different to the aural recipe. This song is less relentless though, as it does take time out to quieten down, allowing the listener to take a breather, whilst introducing a touch more atmosphere in the process. But the musicianship is just as sharp and incisive as ever.

As good as the opening trio of tracks are, it is the ensuing ‘Star Formation’ that sets off a trend on the album that pricks up my ears that little bit more. The intro is quiet, brooding, and melodic, almost NWOBHM-like and I love it, being a sucker for these kinds of melodies. There’s a subtle build in intensity that eventually gives way to a slower, meatier central riff and swathes of well-placed orchestration to add depth and texture. It may eventually explode with real power, culminating in a swift and effervescent lead guitar solo but, ending in the way it began, it’s a much less intense and complex-sounding composition that essentially became my gateway into the more technical material on ‘The Path Of Decoherence’.

That said, the follow-up is arguably even better. ‘Cut Loose’ again starts quietly and in melodic fashion, but the explosion of sound happens earlier and with it, comes a gloriously epic feel that shares a similarity or two with the power metal genre, as does a galloping rhythm later in the track. The lead guitar lines are beautiful, as it the muscular music beneath it, led by drums and bass in impressive tandem. Again, it sounds to these ears to be a generally more straightforward composition, but there are clearly some aspects still that have me groping for understanding and take time to sink in. This juxtaposition is arguably what intrigues me the most and means that I have not in any way grown tired of the material despite the repeated listens I have enjoyed.

The remainder of the album continues to challenge and entertain, particularly the track ‘Deranged’ which, unlike its title, is a tight and engaging progressive metal track with enough melody to bring me back time and time again. It’s the melodic interplay and skipping rhythm that emerges as the halfway stage that most beguiles me, especially as it is sandwiched between two quieter passages where atmosphere and emotion is allowed to fully permeate.

As with plenty of progressive albums over the years, especially those with a certain quirkiness and a greater complexity to them, it has been a reasonably long voyage of discovery here. I began by admiring the music but that admiration has grown, to the point where I’m now really enjoying ‘The Path Of Decoherence’ and I really look forward to hearing all of its charms, melodies, and idiosyncrasies all over again. One for the musicians amongst you, definitely, but it’s equally as gratifying and enjoyable if, like me, you simply enjoy something a bit more technical and challenging to wrap your ears around. The year may be young, but if this is an insight into the quality we can expect from the progressive metal genre in 2024, it threatens to be an incredibly exciting year indeed.

The Score of Much Metal: 91%

PREVIOUS 2024 REVIEWS: