In a musical landscape which often echoes with predictable rhythms and conformist sounds, The Gathering Pool emerges as a transcendent force of creative ingenuity. Led by Ryan Christopher, known for his involvement in the esteemed Portland Oregon Progressive Rock band, Fluid, The Gathering Pool plunges headlong into uncharted waters with their latest opus, “Integer of None”. The album not only showcases a formidable amalgamation of progressive metal elements but also ventures into profound thematic depths, delving into the complex quagmire of overcoming narcissistic abuse.
At its core, “Integer of None” resonates as a testament to the human spirit’s indomitable resilience, casting a spotlight on the treacherous journey of extricating oneself from the clutches of narcissistic manipulation. Akin to the intricate labyrinths of progressive rock, the philosophical underpinning of the album orbits around the insidious nature of narcissistic abuse – a malevolent dynamic where the perpetrator feeds on the victim’s very essence, leaving them mere husks while the abuser basks in self-aggrandizing glory.
This concept draws a striking parallel to the foundational principles of mathematics, where the abstraction of “none” or zero contradicts the tangible world. In parallel, the album counters the fallacy of being reduced to insignificance, asserting the intrinsic value and dignity each individual inherently possesses.
Within the sonic tapestry of “Integer of None,” The Gathering Pool wields a masterful blend of chaotic progressive metal textures, juxtaposing victorious vocals that alternate between harsh, guttural roars and majestic melodic strains. The complexity of instrumental arrangements, rife with unexpected twists and resplendent crescendos, seamlessly interlaces with the heartbeat of each composition. The audacious hooks and refrains of the choruses leave an indelible imprint on the psyche, effortlessly lodging themselves within the recesses of the mind.
While the album resonates with moments that grip the listener in a vice-like hold, manifesting as an unapologetic sonic onslaught, it doesn’t shy away from moments of deliberate serenity. The record cleverly intersperses languid, meandering passages, where the music assumes an almost atmospheric and cinematic quality. This continuous interplay between intensity and tranquility ensures that the album’s allure remains steadfast, maintaining a hypnotic grip until the final notes fade into the ether.
“Integer of None” unfurls across seven tracks, each varying in duration between four and a half minutes to a staggering fourteen. These compositions harness the full artillery of The Gathering Pool’s musical arsenal, unfurling waves of emotion and virtuosity that leave the listener astounded. Despite the breadth of the journey embarked upon, monotony remains an alien concept, as the album exudes an unrelenting vitality. The project employs the ferocity and fervor of progressive metal judiciously, sparingly, ensuring that every sonic explosion serves a purpose, a testament to its artistic wisdom.
From the album’s incendiary opener, “Sullen Ghost,” to the intricate percussive evocations of “Innerupted Me,” and the riff-driven cryptic allure of “A Wish Upon ‘Oh Well’,” the listener is carried through a tempestuous odyssey of emotions and rhythmic dynamism. “Puzzled In Pieces” unravels with labyrinthine precision, while “The Addition of Infinity” unveils a cascade of enigmatic narratives. “Much like hell there is no potency, until temporary becomes indefinitely,” sings Ryan Christopher. “Deep within a frozen clock might as well be lost in space.”
“I used to think about it. When it was on my fingertips. It’s not worth the road. I used to dream about it. When it was on the tip of my tongue. It’s not worth the road,” opens “Question,” teetering on the brink of existential inquiry before the magnum opus, “Somewhere My Sum=1 / Void at the Center of Attention,” casts its majestic spell, culminating the journey with poignant flourishes. “Somewhere my sum=1. Somewhere to someone. Until then I remain an integer of none,” states Ryan Christopher in the first part, while in the second part, he claims: “In your place next to this integer of none, somewhere my sum=1.
“Integer of None” is more than an album; it’s a sonic narrative that ensnares the senses, leading them on a rollercoaster of poignant reflections, dynamic rhythms, bone-crushing riffs, and soaring melodies. Each composition unfurls like a chapter in a profound epic, narrating the triumph of the human spirit over the darkest abysses. The album transcends mere entertainment, offering a highbrow spectacle of instrumental prowess and vocal dexterity, a treasure trove for connoisseurs of rock and metal.
In the grand tapestry of The Gathering Pool’s discography, “Integer of None” stands as a luminous milestone, attesting to the band’s harmonious synergy and creative vitality. Ryan Christopher’s visionary leadership steers the project through uncharted waters, delivering an album that doesn’t just echo within the confines of its musical genres but reverberates in the depths of the soul. As “Integer of None” resounds, The Gathering Pool emerges not just as a musical endeavor but as a force that encapsulates the indomitable spirit’s triumph against all odds.