Review Summary: Bygones is definitely the sum of its parts.
Bygones is the collaboration between Zach Hill (Hella, Team Sleep, Holy Smokes etc.) and Nick Reinhart (Tera Melos). If you are at all familiar with their back catalogs, then you can make a pretty accurate guess at whether or not "by-", their debut album, will entertain you or just piss you off.
Zach Hills' drumming forms the core of Bygones sound, and he's playing at his peak. If you were disappointed by his more restrained style on "Diamond Watch Wrists" earlier this year (which seemed to be a common complaint), you're in for a treat. His beats are just as erratic, frantic, and migraine inducing as ever. From the minute the album starts until the moment it ends, Hill weaves intricate and mind bending drum patters almost seamlessly with Reinharts' technically impressive and surprisingly melodic guitar leads.
I'll admit, I'm not a huge fan of Tera Melos. I gave them a try a while ago, and it just didn't do anything for me. However, after listening to what Reinhart plays on "by-", I think I might have to reconsider. His delicately complex guitar lines are often mind boggling, and he pulls off some catchy melodies and hooks that are much needed to bring some focus to the madness.
Vocal duties are handled by both members, and are the weakest element of Bygones' sound in my opinion. The vocals often get buried in the mix, and while there are a few cool vocal moments, I can't help but think how much better the project would sound if there was a vocalist who could actually...well, sing. The vocals don't really detract from my enjoyment, I rather like them most of the time, but they could definitely be improved.
It all comes together to form something chaotic, melodic, and thoroughly enjoyable. "By-" is definitely not for the faint of heart or the easily distracted.
Is this album of the year material? I don't think so, but it's still a really enjoyable record; solid, spastic, compelling, and above all, entertaining. Will you feel the same way? There's only one way to find out...