Marrying the traditional with the modern and niche domain of prog rock/metal, the music of Pittsburgh-based Beo String Quartet has a unique angle. On paper, it sounds like a potential disaster given how divergent these two styles are, but the weird and winding structures mixed with classical tones somehow push through.
“We’ve flipped the roles of string quartet vs rock combo normally found in popular styles. In ‘Ghosts Revisited,’ it’s the strings giving us the substance of the sound. The drums, guitar, bass, and vocals drop in for added definition and texture.”Producer Sean Neukom
Thematically, the album is inspired by personal transformation and confronting the things that lead us to develop into better versions of ourselves. The group call their sound “chamber alt,” and we’re introduced to the concept via ‘Prologue’, with its cosy and soft opening tones that evolve into a string-driven melancholic soar.
Contrasting the lofty, pensive heights of the opener is ‘Dreaming’, which leads the way via a pounding percussion line, rockier rhythms, and epic, gnashing vocals. Cue the chunky guitar work to complete the journey into a semi-metal track packed with energy and backed by a piercing string collective maintaining the classical feel. Creepy vocals and textural brushing imbue the piece with real character.
Elsewhere on the 11-track LP is ‘Ghost 2’, which features glittery layers of winding, melding strings that create compelling themes. Meanwhile, ‘Ghost 3’ rides on bouncy, plucked strings, and ‘Ghost 4’ takes a darker turn with sombre edges and a cutting composition. Lastly, there’s ‘Epilogue’, which meanders on ethereal and beautiful sonic ambience.
Beo String Quartet are unimpeded by predictability or gimmicks. There’s an innovative fusion of one of rock’s nerdier subgenres with classical sensibilities, delivering truly original stylings. They have the grit of metal but, no less, the refined sophistication of an excellently-trained string team as well.