This one has certainly been a while coming since Limerick four-piece Shardborne turned a few heads in 2011 with their ‘Aeonian Sequence’ EP.
While the EP was short,and the production a little tinny at times, it pointed to something intriguing happening in Limerick where four magnificently skilled musicians happened to converge into one instrumental prog metal band.
The subsequent gigs were really where the band flaunted their wears with many new songs rearing their heads but unfortunately a full-length album seemed to constantly hit delays until now.
Scratch That Itch
‘Living Bridges’ really is the record that you feel like Shardborne have been itching make, not content with the limits of a four song EP, and itching for the space and freedom that a full-length provides.
For a band of this nature, where lengthier songs and repeated listens to fully grasp it are commonplace, time and space are everything.
What first hits you about this record, as soon as the opening notes of ‘Not That Axis’ chime in, is how sharp and crisp it all sounds.
This is hardly surprising considering the band tapped producer Jamie King to mix and master it. His work on records by Between the Buried and Me and Scale the Summit speak volumes and he is probably the finest producer right now to handle a band of this ilk.
This sort of technical instrumental metal is ten a penny and there are very few bands that really standout. With ‘Living Bridges’, Shardborne are certainly one of them with their musicianship balanced with memorable songs (and instantly hummable riffs).
In fact, they’re probably the first band to really fill the void left behind by Canvas Solaris when they split up.
While there are similarities to more recent bands like Scale the Summit (not just in sound but also the artwork department), the Limerick band bears more of a sonic kinship with Canvas Solaris’ tech death-influenced prog metal.
Each song has a lot going on but always has a natural flow like in the massive sounding title track or ‘Looking Down From the Sky Above’, the latter with its expansive riffs, which recall the ambitious technical wizardry of albums like 2007’s ‘Cortical Tectonics’ by Canvas Solaris. Nothing on this album sounds small by any stretch.
Closer ‘Room Within a Room’ then suitably rounds off the album with what is probably its most melodic outing, topped off with a gorgeous crescendo.
This is a seriously impressive album from the Limerick band and frankly, there’s no one else in the country quite like them.
That said, the quality isn’t all that surprising given that we’ve been expecting it for a while but it’s no less satisfying.
4.5/5 – Jonathan Keane