Replicating the production of decades past is a common technique today. There are many retro acts that serve as merely second tier emulations of classic 60s, 70s and 80s bands. Somehow Object Permanence goes one stop beyond that: its debut, Forever, honestly sounds like it could be from 1971. In addition, the album is surprisingly diverse, which, frankly, is the most appealing aspect; the music is nothing special.
Object Permanence is the project of Pennsylvanian prog rock enthusiast, Michael DeMichele. Collaborating with drummer friend Samuel Janis, DeMichele sought to create a “technical progressive rock CD in the style of Rush, Tool, and Porcupine Tree.” It’s a shame, then, that someone with such great taste in music would miss the mark this much. Forever is far from the quality of Rush and Tool, and far, far, far from the quality of Porcupine Tree, but it does capture the simple riffing of heavy rock pioneers while implementing sounds and ideas from other genres.
Forever begins with a few songs that would fit perfectly on an early Black Sabbath record. DeMichele captures the grungy chord progressions of Tony Iommi exactly and the melodies are similarly basic. Unfortunately, DeMichele can’t sing and chooses to speak his words like a disinterested prophet. As limited a vocalist as he is, Ozzy Osbourne would definitely improve these tracks, making them only mediocre. “Forever” includes a spacey, jazzy interlude that makes it slightly less unremarkable.
“Xi” continues the space jam vibe, and to their credit, it’s a sufficiently different style than the preceding tracks. Likewise, “Redemption” is an acoustic ballad with the vocal quality of a more masculine Al Stewart. There are subtle harmonies and the melody is poignant. It’s surprising that this track was written by the same man as the opening ones. DeMichele certainly carries artistic range (if questionable uniqueness and talent).
A more progressive take on hard rock comes with “Rise,” but it’s still rooted in guitar riffs that are dull and too familiar. “Transcendance,” to be fair, revolves around a riff similar to the focus of Porcupine Tree’s “Normal,” but that’s where the connection stops. Object Permanence captures a psychedelic vibe here, but DeMichele once again barely sings his basic verses. Perhaps he should ask Steven Wilson for advice on how to write and sing great songs. The album closes with two more 1970s era metal songs that don’t emit a shred of originality or significant quality.
The only intriguing aspect of Forever is that it contains varied styles. While mostly more sophisticated and complex versions of forty year old heavy metal, some of the tracks explore wholly different environments, which entitles DeMichele to some credit. Even so, none of the songs here are really appealing or recommendable, which proves that a lack of good songwriting and singing equals a failed record (no matter how assorted it is).