Behold... The Arctopus' third release and first EP is, almost ironically, only 6 minutes longer than their second demo, Arctopocalypse Now. This band is amazing if you want super technical instrumental metal. Clocking in at a mere seventeen and one-half minutes, not a moment disappoints. The three members, Mike Lerner on guitar, Colin Marston playing tap guitar (Actually a Warr guitar, a 12 string instrument that spans both bass and guitar ranges. He is also the bassist for the band Dysrhythmia) and Charlie Zeleny on drums. All members are excellent at what they do and the arrangements are so tight it will make your head spin. There is not a single misplaced note on this album. Every member is stellar at their respective instruments. Originally, the band was named We Need A Drummer on mp3.com and their first demo was entitled, We Need a Drummer, with tracks, We Need a Drummer and We Still Need a Drummer. Needless to say, they found their drummer and he is excellent. Not at any moment does he get tripped up by the bizarre and abrupt time changes that are sprinkled so liberally throughout this EP.
This album specializes in making you feel bad about your own skill as an instrumentalist and composer. It is no wonder these boys have yet to find commercial success. No one wants to feel this bad about themselves when they listen to music. It could be described as mindless wanking by some but the fact that everything is so meticulous kills that notion in its tracks. Also the lack of vocals makes keeping things interesting that much more important.
I feel obliged to mention that having only 3 members in no way makes for thin wimpy music. Not only is Colin Marston an excellent Warr guitar player, filling the role of both guitar and bass simultaneously, but Mike Lerner’s guitar parts often are so erratic and spastic in their fretboard spasms that you have trouble understanding how he even though of the parts written because they don’t make sense to have those voicings and note groupings where they are. The use of tasteful effects also helps fill out the sound even further. For nearly forty seconds in Sensory Amusia, there is a very distinct fusion sound that would do Sean Malone proud. It is followed by super dense feedback slams that could be found on a Khanate album, and of course the frenetic jumping lurches of sound that Rob Jarzombek playing grind would have trouble reproducing.
Each song is worth hearing, plain and simple. Less plain and simple, each is very different, encompassing different genres and setting different moods. Despite the ability of this band to play super complex riffs at blistering speed, they also have no problem slowing things down for a drone-like buzz and hum. The bands that they play live with can be heard through the music. Having played with the likes of Pelican, Kayo Dot, Ghengis Tron, Dysrhythmia, PsyOpus and many others, the bastard sound is easy to hear. The abrupt mood shifts of Kayo Dot/Maudlin of the Well, super tech jazz guitars of PsyOpus and ridiculous spasms of Ghengis Tron are all audible. To be sure though, this is not some rip-off of other bands sounds and qualities, but after Behold… The Arctopus’ own original sounds, one can listen deeper to the influences of others.
Not once do I get bored with this album. Maybe I would after more than a 20 minute album but the length of time that must go into recording and writing this music is what I feel prevents a longer release. I highly anticipate whatever may come next and at the same time fear it because the possibility of having my brain melt while listening to this is quite great.