Metavari, though certainly not easily reduced to being indebted to one influence alone, sure seem willing run the risk of being endlessly compared to the Books. Their debut full-length, Be One Of Us And Hear No Noise, draws upon a considerable amount of disparate influences over the course of it‘s 42 minutes, but their first foot forward, the opening “Kings Die Like Other Men,” seemingly portends an album’s worth of material entirely beholden to the Books. This impression soon proves illusory as the song’s second half is marked by live drums and skyward-facing post-rock guitars, but up to that point, you’d be forgiven for noticing the glitchy electronic drums and near constant stream of found sound samples are page one in the Books playbook. Which isn’t to say that the first half of song isn’t enjoyable. Shit, it’s been so long since the Books released an album that I’m frankly glad to hear anything that reminds me of them. I only mention it to point out that “Kings Die Like Other Men” strikes me as a peculiar choice to as an album-opener. A more cynical critic might call it a red herring.
Beyond the opening song’s melding of electronic collage sampling with instrumental grandeur, Metavari seem content to rely on the post-rock school of rise, crest, and crash. This method is as reliable and safe as ever and Metavari certainly know their way around it, but their dependence upon this predictable route prevents the band from truly rising above their peers.
On the other hand, Metavari should be given some credit for trying to instill these conventional techniques with instrumentation that is somewhat unusual for the genre. Make no mistake, Be One Of Us And Hear No Noise is a post-rock record through and through, a fact that is easily discernible with one glance at the track list (“The Priest, The Shore, And The Wait,” and “IO, Apollo And The Veil“ are but two of the epically nerdy song titles here). Nonetheless, Metavari make some rather sharp connections between post-rock and ambient electronica that seem almost obvious in retrospect. A great deal of the albums more conventionally written passages are livened up by copious amounts of skittering drums and shimmering synthesizers. Naturally, there is still room for some melodrama, as the title track’s bombastic string section proves.
There’s certainly no doubting the sincerity of Metavari’s members, all of whom play with palpable concern and care. In fact, the individual players are almost too meticulous, effectively removing any chance Be One Of Us And Hear No Noise has at approaching any kind of catharsis. It’s an album almost frustrating in the amount of promise it demonstrates without fulfilling it, but there’s enough good here to feel certain that the next time out will find Metavari with a finer sense of how to distinguish themselves.