Review Summary: Epileptic Anarcho Emo-Math-Hardcore Fusion. Talent and emotion run wild through a forest on fire and jump into a ripple-less lake.
How to describe BTEOT... A four piece instrumental group from Texas who sound as if they recorded their tracks at home with 50's equipment and mixed it down and engineered it whilst drunk. Oh and their drummer (ex-drummer...sadly) plays a child's drumkit. Holy crap if it weren't for them oozing ability they'd be awful.
This album is not for everyone admittedly. Frantic, spastic passages intersperse seemingly unlinked with smooth moments and the odd emo-esque section, the epileptic nature of this release leaves many people feeling angry that you've wasted their time. I guess some people are just difficult. Personally this is one of my favourite relases from 2005.
Their debut, In a Tribute to the Sandbox demonstrated an ability to meld frantic, furious hardcore/punk ethics with pure majesty (check out album closer It's Christmas Time for twelve minutes of unadulterated joy.) However the release was arguably overly stretched out, horrifically recorded and mastered and full of sub-par songs it perhaps could have done without (you could argue this is proven by their releasing four of the best tracks on an EP entitled Fireworks on Ice, if you can find it, get it.)
This album takes them to a whole new plain. Opening track 4s, 5s And The Piano That Never Made It Home starts with a calming, relaxing guitar riff, slowly building with the addition of beautifully conceived bass and guitar parts, it builds and drops into a crescendo of distorted guitars and pounded drums that would make Explosions in the Sky envious, before dropping back into the opening section. A little ambient noise accompaniment and we are dropped straight into another all-out furious section then a build-up then furious anger then restrained clean guitars then distortion then...
Well you get the point. The whole album maintains this pace of energetic insanity and calming atmosphere, beauty and horror, anger and joy. The technical ability is beyond belief, with drummer Jeff Wilson playing with such calculated ferocity one wonders whether or not it's fair to call him a mere mortal.
Stop, Drop and Roll has one of my favourite opening sections to a song (Beautiful, simple guitar and basses and vocals screamed by the whole band from behind the wrong side of the studio) into furious math-core/funk/metal crazy infusions. Insanity prevails until the track closes with the opening section reprised into a stomping, booming beautiful piece of genuinely effective melodic heaviness.
The rest of the tracks follow a similar pattern (or lack of) and are all similarly technically wonderful, the weak point for me being Setting Sail in April which seems to lack a coherency to it that the other tracks (on further investigation) definately contain. Tigers is simply gorgeous, a continuously building gem of clean and processed guitars, subtle bass tones and a standard display of genius from Jeff Wilson. The piece just gains momentum and tension for it's duration, never arriving at where you expect it to (to it's benefit.)
The final track is once again awesome, if a little confused, and has the now trademark moments of joy and moments of crazed destruction. It wouldn't have been my choice as a closer, but, who am I to argue? It still blasts so many other bands out of the water.
I must recommend everyone who enjoys ATD-i, Explosions, Mogwai, anything heavy, beautiful and complex, to seek this out and give it a try. It is truly a unique listen, technically and emotionally, it's a traumatic and pleasurable journey through the mind of four boys from the Deep-South.
N.B: They each made a short EP due to travel difficulties in recording and rehearsing together. Fans of early Blood Brothers, AIDS Wolf, any avant-noisy music should check out "He's Home With Bones That Grow The Way They're Supposed To." Inspired, experimental genius.