As we reach the halfway mark in Misha Mansoor’s Archive series under his Bulb moniker, the evolution of the artist becomes clearer and more defined. The melodic djent factor is becoming more prevalent and the noodly bits are in the minority, and the songwriting is stronger and more defined. The riffs are meatier, the melodies are smoother and more linear, and you can hear the Mansoor stamp all over the music.

The first two tracks on Archives: Volume 5 (“Coldemark” and “FF7 Jenova Cover”) are similar: fast; melodic, and immersed in prog sauce. The leads on “Coldemark” fall into a lighter Satriani feel and the ones on “FF7 Jenova Cover” are distinctively Steve Vai-esque – whether or not this was intentional is neither here nor there, as they are both solid fuel for shred-heads. Apart from a couple of later tracks, the rest of the album is very djent-oriented and is the obvious creation of ‘the guitarist from Periphery.’

“Fuf” is heavy on atmosphere with playful dynamics and the smoothest solo this side of Eric Johnson. “Inertia” starts off with a gentle guitar intro, lulling us into a fit and restful slumber, and then hits us square on the skull with ferocious djent magnitude. That said, the melody floats effortlessly and with great effect under the prominent riff, and it plays out with style. With “Less Than Three,” the riff is visceral and exciting, and the synth work swirls and plays within the guitar lines, but this leads us to “Ms. Doppertunity,” a unique piece for Mr. Mansoor. The djent is at the forefront and menacing, but it is dressed up (surprisingly) with Limp Bizkit rhythms and atonal leads that produce something distinct and highly enjoyable.

“Not Enough Mana” is Periphery to the max, all layered melodies and leads, soft interludes, and flurries of legato notes that trickle in the ear like pure honey and is as solid as solid can be. “Notes To Self” is one of the non-djent songs and plays outside the Mansoor box – solo piano that meddles in jazz territory with fluid lines leading into pure emotion and not a little classical influence. “Serious Business” is probably the most unshaped piece on the record, in that it is pure djent with dense riffs and not much else – at this point in the series, I’m sure there will be more of these, most of which would ultimately become Periphery songs. “So Sweet” is the other unusual track on here – it is terrifying mathcore in the Dillinger Escape Plan mould, with dissonant, chaotic rhythms and relentless force, but it ends quiet and blissful. And much like “Serious Business,” the final track (“The Focus Hour”) is more blinding djent featuring synth pads, enormous drums, and a sweet, sweet groove.

Misha Mansoor

The next release will be fully orchestral, which will be something different and tasty, but Archives: Volume 5 is the most solid and dependable in the series thus far, and it has a few curveballs that will turn heads. As such, Mansoor fans will find a ton of nutritious prog metal to devour here, and it goes down smooth.

Archives: Volume 5 Track Listing:

1. Coldemark
2. FF7 Jenova Cover
3. Fuf
4. Inertia
5. Less Than Three
6. Ms. Doppertunity
7. Not Enough Mana
8. Notes To Self
9. Serious Business
10. So Sweet
11. The Focus Hour

Run Time: 36 minutes
Release Date: July 24, 2020
Record Label: 3DOT Recordings