The smoldering reverse echo of a guitar rises from the ethers in the opening bars of Opposite Day’s “Day of the Triffids” as if to warn us that there’s an ocean of chaotic discord just waiting to be unleashed behind this fragile dam. A bass with the legs of a spider dexterously wanders between the strut of the riffs that are literally growing around us, and before we know it we’re smashed dead center between a crunchy modulation in the tempo and the focused assault of the band. Opposite Day’s Divide By Nothing gets off to a furious start, but it doesn’t let up in any of the five tracks it dispatches at listeners who are bold enough to embark on the group’s latest progressive adventure.
The centerpiece of the Divide By Nothing EP is the harmonious dueling between the players in Opposite Day. Guitarist Sam Arnold, bassist Greg Yancey and drummer Eoghan McCloskey are in top form in this record, sophisticatedly grinding out one set of mathematically jarring tunes after another, and fellow musicians will find the tightness of the material especially sumptuous in this rather modestly structured release from the band. As short and simple as this extended play is, the sprawling, engrossing intensity of tracks like the throttling “Zeroes in Your Eyes” contain enough elaborately designed melodies to satisfy most progressive rockers’ taste for the eccentric, and I actually think that the beauty of the material is all the more highlighted in this format than it would have been in a larger concept LP.
The color of Opposite Day’s sound is rooted exclusively in their open-ended, somewhat shapeless arrangements that seem to come alive before our very ears in their studio and live output alike. Casual music fans might find Divide By Nothing to be a little overwhelming if they’ve never come in contact with brooding, relentlessly organized compositions of this style before. This is by no means a starter kit for listeners trying to familiarize themselves with the modern progressive genre, but for the hardcore enthusiasts who live for music that pushes the limit on every level, this is a worthy record from a consistently proven band. You don’t find the awkward, angular sway of “Penetrating Atmosphere” nor the stony minor key thump of “Hemonaut” on an MTV-approved contemporary pop playlist, but I don’t think that bothers this group’s core audience in the slightest.
It’s not their most exotic record to date, but Opposite Day’s Divide By Nothing packs a heck of a punch just the same, delivering the desired conceptual threading that progressive rock fans demand along with plenty of surprising melodies and psychedelically stylized grooves that will leave an imprint on audiences both old and new. More than anything else,Divide By Nothing highlights its composers’ palatability and growing evolution as a creative entity. Sam Arnold’s lyrics aren’t explicitly more cutting than they have been in the past, but they are presented to us at their most insular and postmodern. This is a fun but quite surreal release from Opposite Day, and a fine addition to the 2018 recording season.