Distortion Ride is an auditory enigma. Pulling inspiration from genres as diverse as Heavy Metal and Reggae, Distortion Ride may be best described as Progressive Rock, especially since its songs often meander through different time signatures and musical styles.
French Metal said it best in its review of Distortion Ride’s 2017 EP: “Innovative, exploratory and totally baffling, Distortion Ride excels in the art of musical camouflage and sound metamorphosis.”
Interestingly, the Distortion Ride EP French Metal reviewed was actually simpler than their latest album. Yes, the EP is sonically complex, but the influences are easier to nail down. Songs like “Mystic Blood” were obviously influenced by the Metal scene in the ‘90s (especially groups like Helmet), and tracks like “Shot of Sorrow” were blends of Punk and Groove Metal.
But Distortion Ride’s latest album, Burning Waves of Silence, is much more complicated. With the average song running almost twice as long as on Distortion Ride, the band enjoys extra time for experimentation.
Regardless, this French trio delivers.
About Distortion Ride
Distortion Ride formed in 2014 in Toulouse, France. The band members are:
Matt P: Vocals, Guitar
Olivier Carrara: Drums, Backing vocals
Maurin Dica: Bass, Backing vocals
For Burning Waves of Silence, the band collaborated with recording engineer Andy Jackson, who famously worked with Pink Floyd (The Final Cut, Momentary Lapse of Reason, The Division Bell) and on solo projects for David Gilmour and Roger Waters. Jackson’s experience is important here because Burning Waves of Silence is a stark deviation from the Distortion Ride EP.
About the Vocals
If you’ve never heard Distortion Ride before, we should spend a moment discussing Matt P’s vocals. Matt P is a technically proficient singer. He delivers multiple vocal styles with ease, alternating between clean compressions to vocal fry, wrapping his notes in prosody and fall offs. Within a single track, Matt P may even adopt multiple singing approaches, crafting his voice around whatever the instrumentation calls for.
That said, we have mixed feelings about his overall delivery. “Coming Down,” the album’s opening track, is a blend of Hard Rock riffs, but his voice punches through the lyrics like a Punk singer. It’s an unexpected blend that takes a few listens to adjust to, and it’s indicative of his singing throughout the album.
This critique is not to drag Matt P through the mud, however. There are a few songs here where the vocals match up perfectly with the rest of the song, like in “Gimme One More Beer,” the band’s rocking party anthem. Here, the layered vocals and various distortions compliment the rest of the track perfectly.
Whether or not you like Distortion Ride may rest entirely on your opinion on Matt P, similar to how Coheed and Cambria’s fanbase rested partially on Claudio Sanchez and part of the Smashing Pumpkin’s popularity was hindered by the band keeping Billy Corgan on microphone duties.
With that out of the way, let’s jump into the review.
Burning Waves of Silence Review
Total Tracks: 8
Length: 56 minutes
Track 1: Going Down
From the first note, Distortion Ride places Matt P’s intricate guitar heroics front and center. “Going Down” opens with an incredible Hard Rock riff that sets the tone for the entire album.
Corrosion of Conformity fans may recall Leadfoot, a band launched by Karl Agell and Phil Swisher after leaving COC. Leadfoot was marked by wild, loose, Bluesy guitars with Hard Rock delivery—and that’s similar to what Distortion Ride offers in “Going Down.”
Track 2: Bringer of Night
“Bringer of Night” opens slowly and deliberately with a bit of pinched distortion and Corrosion of Conformity-inspired guitar movement. Listening closer, the structure of “Bringer of Night” is typical of Distortion Ride’s work in Burning Waves of Silence. There’s a template at play throughout the album: A clearly distinct intro followed by a clearly distinct verse, which is then followed by a distinct chorus (which may align exactly with the intro). “Bringer of Night” flips between distorted and clean guitars, balancing the heavy with the light and crafting a variety of emotions in a single 7-minute song.
Track 3: Cold
As on “Going Down,” “Cold” showcases a variety of Matt P’s technical abilities as a vocalist, and it also demonstrates just how delicately he can play the guitar (check out the 50-second solo that starts around 2:35).
“Cold” is marked by haunted, meandering vocals and a huge, explosive breakdown. This is definitely one of Burning Waves of Silence’s standout tracks.
Track 4: Burning Waves of Silence
This is one title track that deserves to have its name on the album cover. “Burning Waves of Silence” is a heavy, Progressive, multi-sectional thrill marked with touches of mysticism that make you feel like you’re drifting through the fog on a dark night.
Track 5: Gimme One More Beer
After four tracks of Progressive tendencies, we were surprised (if not a little pleased) to see a party anthem squeezed into Burning Waves of Silence.
“Gimme One More Beer” opens on a wicked riff flared with occasional pinch harmonics for accent. By the time the band settles into its primary riff, “Gimme One More Beer” is a ZZ Top-inspired power rocker—easy to shout at the bar and even easier to headbang to. For extra flavor, Matt P smartly layers up his vocals, delivering a chorus shouting for one more beer.
This is a refreshing track from a band whose music is often complex, and “Gimme One More Beer” may serve as a nice intermission for more traditional metalheads who aren’t around for the Prog tendencies.
Track 6: Where the River Ends
We already mentioned that Burning Waves of Silence incorporates multiple music styles, and “Where the River Ends” exemplifies that perfectly since it opens with Reggae. To be fair, this approach isn’t totally unheard of. Montgomery County, Maryland-based rockers Lionize (and close friends of Clutch) have long incorporated heavy doses of Reggae in their unique style. For Distortion Ride and “Where the River Ends,” Reggae is a suitable intro for a song that eventually turns heavy.
Track 7: Stardust
When we saw Andy Jackson was involved on Burning Waves of Silence, we were hoping to hear a Pink Floyd homage at some point. The closest we come to an overt nod to the British rockers is the beginning of “Stardust.”
“Stardust” opens like a song from The Division Bell— but with a less synth. Although “Stardust” eventually pulls away from the Pink Floyd influence, it’s still worth listening to the full 10-minute adventure.
Track 8: Night of the Black Snow
The opening of “Night of the Black Snow” is about as Metal as anything Distortion Ride did on Distortion Ride, with rolling bass and massive, distorted guitar chords reverberating into silence. Listen closely—you can almost see the image of ash falling from the sky and blanketing the ground!
As far as songwriting goes, “Night of the Black Snow” is comparatively simple next to the rest of Burning Waves of Silence, but old metalheads may appreciate it for its nods to some of the genre’s classic tracks.
Pros: Burning Waves of Silence is a Hard Rock musical buffet that should appeal to a wide variety of fans. Distortion Ride is a talented trio with Matt P’s guitar heroics consistently jumping out to steal the show.
Cons: The same duality that gives Distortion Ride wide appeal could also turn listeners away.
Example One: We’ve had a difficult time categorizing Distortion Ride’s work. At this point, the best way to describe Burning Waves of Silence may be Progressive-Lite. If you’re looking for predictable song structures and chord progressions, Burning Waves of Silence isn’t for you.
Example Two: You’re either going to love or hate Matt P’s voice. Vocal students will appreciate his technical proficiency, but casual listeners may find themselves confused by the variety of techniques he incorporates—often in a single song.