Next To None - Phases

Next To None Phases cover
Next To None
InsideOut Music / EMP Label Group
Next To None have the misfortune to have Max Portnoy in their ranks, son of drum great Mike Portnoy and thus an awful lot of perceptions and expectations are born out of that fact alone. Their style will remind you of Between The Buried And Me, Periphery and such with the homages to Dream Theater being more than a few or far apart and the similarities, mostly having to do with the style of playing the obnoxiously loudly and upfront mixed drums and beginning and ending in DT’s least impressive post millennial era, which with the exception of “Octavarium” has precious little to offer in terms of musicality and memorable “songs”. Also Thomas Cuce, the band’s singer, should stick to his metalcore screaming style, which despite not being too convincing is far better than his poor attempts at clean melodic singing that plague much of the albums latter part, along with some really silly infusions of effects that he’s probably responsible for (ie dj scratches etc.).
It goes without saying that the band members can play really well, but they lack their own identity and worse yet, they lack the songwriting skills to make a 10 or 20 minute song (that they attempt) interesting. A lot of decent melodic lines and ideas crop up ie “Denial” and in a trio of songs in the middle of the album, “KeK”, “Clarity” and “Pause” that feel like the most focused and serious the band can be at this point…
Really however, the band and album fail to live up to the expectation that being the offspring of someone famous can create and really disappoint on most levels. While other material is marginalized and not given the time of day, these guys get a free ride, mostly because of “association” and the fact that they land face first, should come as no surprise, but more as “divine” justice.
When they actually decide to compose an album of “songs” and not something that feels like a lose jam with the occasional “virtuoso” parts and a generic core feel, they might start to become interesting. For starters they could look for another singer and I presume a keyboard player.