Beyond Dawn - Electric Sulking Machine

Great title. Worrying blurb that accompanied it. "On first listen it might sound crap, but if you listen carefully, it isnít." Ok, so those arenít the EXACT words, but itís the thought that the actual words place in your mind. So is it crap, does it take time, or is it the work of genius?

Not so sure about genius, but a few plays are definitely required. Itís not heavy either, but it is twisted. Kind of pop in a way, but not the sort of thing to get played on radio 1. I doubt. Addictions Are Private is driven by the drums, whil On The Subject Of Turning Insane is a gentle number, starting out acoustically with what sounds like some horns in the background it eventually builds as the horns become more pronounced without ever really getting in your face. Itís all understated in the production, which Iím guessing is where part of the "it might sound like crap" thing comes in.

Certain Qualities continues the theme, gentle and without a hint of a riff in sight but some gentle female background vocals going on there. Itís on Peaceville, but from my limited experience of the label, it almost seems out of place. But it is pretty insidious, such as on Fairy Liquid, with its female lead vocals and a semi-electronic feel to the whole thing. In fact if you perserve with the whole CD then it either gets good or it really is a case of familiarity breeding contempt. So like whatís new there then? Overall? Well I kind of like it but havenít really got a clue how to describe it. It takes patience, and if heaviosity is your goal and your bible, then you probably arenít going to like it. Now, letís see if I can work any of it out.

 

Cubanate

Not sure what youíd call this. Ok, youíd call it a CD, smart arse, but itís 5 tracks. The blurb with it talks of an album released earlier in the year, so it ainít an album. But I donít think itís an EP either. I guess that means itís a promo sampler thing sort of gizmo. Oh that intro was very Pitchshifter from the www album. Maybe itís just the sound they deal in. Cubanate are that industrial technocrossoverthingame sort of stuff.

Unfortunately within this 5 tracker thereís two remixes of two of the songs, so effectively itís reduced to being a 3 tracker, cos I donít need remixes at the moment. In fact Iíve made a startling discovery that I donít need remixes at any stage - my life manages to actually carry on without their assistance.

So thereís three tracks, It, 9.59 and Other Voices. Itís full on, all distorted vocals, nice groove. From my limited knowledge of this stuff Iíve got some of it playing a little in the last Pitchshifter album (the rhythms) and a tamer (much tamer) Atari Teenage Riot territory. A sort of middle ground. Itís ok, Iíd like to hear more, but to be honest, thatís unlikely to happen if itís down to me getting my arse into gear and buying their stuff. This is ok, but thereís so much more out there and at the moment theyíve not managed to make it onto the shopping list. A loaf of bread has though, as Iím out of that.


Opeth - Still Life.

Ever judged anything by its cover? Yeah? Well youíre wrong and evil and are going straight to Hell. But enough of you. Looking at the cover itís a death metal thing. Turn to the back and thereís only 7 songs. The shortest is a second over 5 minutes. The longest is 11 1/2 minutes. The majority appear to be around the 9 minute mark.This is going to be torture. Fortunately, I donít judge by covers (yeah right!) Suitably wound up. Time to delve.

The Moor is first up, that 11 1/2 minute opener. Itís very quiet to start, the acoustics strumming. Itís almost 2 minutes or more before the drums kick in. Nice tempo, melodic and riff. Near 4 minutes and the vocals kick in. Díoh, spoilt. Weíve the "devilonabadday" style. Itís not that bad, not as inaccessible as some, but for me the music to this point deserved something a little nicer. Ah, but a chorus has kicked in, and its being sung. Yeah, this is nice. Much better. But of course it means itís now not as "extreme", and as a result will possibly be seen by some as sell out and not worthy of their attention. Which is a crud of shit really when you think about it. Liking a band only based on the vocal style. Whatever happened to it being about music. You have to question the motives of people who restrict themselves based on that one single criteria donít you. They claim to be "so" into the music, but in actuality, itís just the image of themselves that theyíre interested in. Scared to say you like something "different" in case you clan laugh at you? Anyway, with the chorus this sounds like old school metal (shoot the reviewer now - using the term old school). Itíll get laughed at by the baggy pants brigade Iím sure. But thatís ok, itís not trying to win them over.

Itís all very complicated. And in truth unless youíre keeping an eye on the CD player to see which track your on, initially itís had to tell where one song ends and another starts. Thatís in part due to the length of the songs, you suddenly loose track more readily than when theyíre all 3 minutes. Itís easy to know when 3 minutes is up. The other reason is that they twist their way through so many passages per song. Thereís the more riff based moments, the growl, the sung chorus, the thrown in acoustic elements (especially that "short" song, Benighted, which is entirely acoustic), it breaks down and builds up. Itís a challenge. And itís up to you if you wish to rise to the challenge. But, I have to say, that given a comparison on song lenghts, this is more appealing than that new Type O album. The music is more appealing. More variety. A change. Itís not just a single drone. And itís not easy either. Itís a bit long and a bit too clever for itís own good at times. But against my odds, I think I actually like it. Oo eck.