Review Summary: It's All Happening shows signs of a more mature and focused iwrestledabearonce. But really, they're still pretty damn goofy.
Iwrestledabearonce is clearly a divisive band, and it’s easy to see why. Their self-titled EP from 2007, while featuring their token spastic grindcore/metalcore sound, was marred with goofy interludes and throwbacks to Inspector Gadget and Super Mario Bros. While I do enjoy that EP from time to time, I fully accept its flaws and simply treat it as a guilty pleasure. While iwrestledabearonce’s sense of humor certainly hasn’t gone away with this album, it’s used in a much more contained fashion and shows a new sense of focus. It’s All Happening
clearly isn’t the strongest effort that this band could produce, but hey, they’re young and clearly progressing. Iwrestledabearonce is also progressing quite rapidly as musicians, which is the most obvious through Krysta’s vast improvements both with her now surprisingly brutal low growls and crystal-clean melodic singing.
It’s All Happening
’s strongest moments come from the contrast between electronica and the huge, soaring metal moments that follow. Listeners were given a taste of this last year when “Tastes like Kevin Bacon” was released. While the first half of that song is definitely iwrestledabearonce, it doesn’t really get going until the song settles down, and finally explodes with what is vocalist Krysta Cameron’s most menacing performance to date. The band runs with this electronic/metal contrast on several other songs, such as the beginning to “I’m Cold and There Are Wolves after Me” and “The Cat’s Pajamas”, the latter of which is probably the least gimmicky, and therefore, the most accessible and focused song on the album. “Pazuzu for the Win” is another incredibly focused song from this group, as it shows both their most effective use of breakdowns and much more compelling riffs than on previous songs in the album. It’s All Happening
really reaches its peak right in the middle of the record and truly blew me back in parts.
Even though the general goofiness can be a major turn-off for many of those who aren’t fans of the band, it’s enjoyable in spots. While iwrestledabearonce do have a problem with dicking around a little too much on this album, there are a few instances where it’s simply fun to listen to. “You Aint No Family” would be a great example of this, where the band enters a full on hoe-down section, followed by a horse neighing before entering yet another chug-a-lug-a-wee breakdown. Sure, iwrestledabearonce does have a severe case of musical-ADHD, but in a few spots it pays off. Some of their goofiest moments will clearly become some of their most memorable on the record, and some of the most effective parts of their live performance. “See You in Shell” would probably be the only other tune that shows a very strong use of vast musical contrast. The song, starting off with their technical grindcore sound, quickly enters the album’s most technical breakdown with Krysta’s best clean vocals to date. And then not too much later you’re hit with a full on disco-break. It sounds outright silly on paper, but man would it make for an interesting song in concert.
I want to outright love this band and album, but the same reason I was drawn to them in the first place is the same reason they are now holding themselves back. While you can see in certain songs that iwrestledabearonce is clearly progressing and maturing as musicians, you can also see that the band doesn’t want to abandon their sense of humor which made them so popular so quickly. I’d give them a few more albums before they are a completely focused and effective force in the metal world, but for now I’ll gladly take my breakdowns with my hoe-downs and just accept It’s All Happening
for what it is: fun metalcore.