Review Summary: The long awaited debut full length from the Brooklyn instrumental tech trio makes good the promises from their previous EP. A dense, spiraling album that will take more than a few casual listens to fully comprehend.
Behold… the Arctopus (henceforth known as BtA) really knows how to build up the hype. After two demos, a promising EP with a downright unruly name (Nano-Nucleonic Cyborg Summoning?) and a split with strange avant-noise duo Orthrelm, the Brooklyn based instrumental tech metal trio has finally released its first full length on the legendary, quarter century old Metal Blade Records. Skullgrid is the perfect cure for those waiting pains, because while the name of the album is more elementary than the band’s previous release, the music therein is infinitely more complex, mature, and (strangely) likeable than anything played on the EP.
Economy is the name of the game on Skullgrid; the album itself clocks in at only 33:33. In this brief time limit, BtA manages to jam together heaps of shred mastery, stop-start Warr guitar (a crazy 12 stringed bass/guitar hybrid played mostly by tapping) runs and skizzo-jazz drumming on every mind-bending track.
And while on the stick work, it is important to note that drummer Charlie Zeleny has come into his own with this album, maybe even a little too much. His lightning quick fills and keen sense of rhythm among the chaos steal him the show over his equally talented bandmates. The end of “Canada,” for example, sounds like something Buddy Rich might have played if he had lived long enough to hang out with the guys in the late 80’s Florida death metal scene. As for the other two members, they and the two guest musicians (Dream Theater keyboardist Jordan Rudess and Mick Barrr, guitarist for the aforementioned Orthrelm) keep up the virtuosity from the album’s first burst of energy to the waning moments of the frenetic finale, “Transient Exuberance.”
Skullgrid is easily the most complex and challenging release of the year, and metal fans and musicians alike should take a listen, if only to be humbled by three guys with more musical prowess than a graduating class at Berklee.
Sounds promising, but I have to admit that this is a little lacking in the actual information department... I have a general idea of what this might sound like, but barely... is it anything like Spastic Ink or Liquid Tension Experiment?This Message Edited On 10.18.07
Yeah, it's definitely a much less cohesive Spastic Ink. This album is especially spazzy, but it's barely over a half hour long, so by the time your head is about to explode, it's over. If you dig any kind of tech/prog/instru-metal, you need Skullgrid. It will own you for quite awhile, at least until you can make sense of all the cacophonous noise. Fun stuff indeed!
It's a bit of an acquired taste, but there are some oddly accessbile bits in there. Not as many weird intros and random pauses as there are in the EP. I think it's just a lot more mature and developed. Not to say the EP wasn't, but Skullgrid just has better songwriting all around.
It's definitely one of the better CDs that came out this year..alongside with Blotted Science's "The Machinations Of Dementia".
If you're not comfortable with enjoying atonal pieces and odd timing, then you probably won't like this. However, I don't think it's right for people to criticize it as "random wankage noise", because anyone who knows anything about music theory and playing music will know that this is way beyond that..as incoherent as it sounds, it's actually very well structured, and it takes a lot of precision and technicality to play music like that.
Music doesn't have to be melodic. Atonality has its own beauties..
I bought this on iTunes yesterday because it was only $6.93, and it is definitely a "less musical" version of Spastic Ink (and heavier too)... I like it, thanks for all the input from all the people that had already heard it; that combined with the review got me off my ass and it turned out to be worth it.
Edit: Oh, and now I understand why the review was lacking in the description department... how do you really describe this kind of album to someone who has never heard them??? So, I voted now too.This Message Edited On 10.23.07