Review Summary: Not exactly as much an album as an EP with demos, but as short as it is, it succeeds greatly.
Before anything else, this HAS to be said first. Brooklyn, New York is the last place you would expect to find a technical/prog band. New York, however, has covered some prog bands, and some quite successful ones at that, including Dream Theater and Spock's Beard. They've both received lots of attention, even the former getting MTV airplay. What makes Behold... the Arctopus different, though, is that they break any conventions of aforementioned two bands, and instead take a more technical route.
So before the review, be warned that this is not exactly as much an album as an E.P. with demos and live songs.
The album opens but very harshly and aggressively, signalling that this band will be very unexpected. The beginning pounds out of the gate with drums blasting, and guitars and bass/warr guitar taking the forefront. Exospacial Psyonic Aura sets the tone quite well. After the brutal opening, some speed metal riffing takes place, along with jazzy rhythms to support it all. In the middle of this song, there's a very neat jazz interlude with subdued textures. This portion of the song can remind one of the early tech/death bands such as Atheist, Death or Cynic. Don't hold your breath for too long, though, as the intensity builds back up for a smashing conclusion to a great opener.
Estrogen/Pathogen Exchange Program is very... interesting. The Estrogen part is mainly comprised of dark, brooding synthesizers, with some bass mixed in. Soon enough, the guitar enters and makes this song even heavier. After a long dissonant chord at 2:32, the bass and drums kick off to the start off Pathogen Exchange Program. The rest of the song is standard tech metal fare, but of course with BTA's signature style. The next song Sensory Amusia begins abruptly, just as the first. In fact, this song is very closely related to the first, for this reason and for another jazz interlude in this one too. Again, the intensity builds up, but this time a crazy fuzzled noise part comes in, and some listeners may want to avert their ears.
Then it leads to the highlight, Alcoholocaust. This song is very short, at a mere 2:50, but not to worry because there is a LOT going on in this song. It begins with a very technical riff that could remind someone of Mick Barr's work, notably with Orthrelm. After this though, it turns into one of the most melodic songs here, with melody and technicality sharing equal aplomb. When it gets to the solo, everything just gets chaotic, with Mike Lerner's wild guitar parts going all over the place, while bassist Colin Marston provides a good backbone. It then just goes for a melodic conclusion. Great song.
Finally, we get to the last studio track, You will be Reincarnated as an Imperial Attack Spaceturtle. Phew, long name! Anyway, this song is the longest one here, clocking in at 8:27. Once again, a melodic prog metal riff strikes first, but soon gets intensely technical. The interesting part about this song is the "Pause, start, pause" method they use in the middle, when they keep stopping their playing for a short period of time. A nice bass solo also accompanies this song in a 4/4 spot. Plus, there is another break just for Mike Lerner when he does 9 arpeggio chords.
The last four tracks are just live versions of these songs minus "Estrogen...". These are ok live, but they have much worse quality, and it would've been great to hear some new material by the band, instead of a rehash. However, Skullgrid, their first full album, came out already, and apparently has new songs.
Again, while this is a short album/long E.P., it provides quality work from a growing band. Sure, there are some rough patches here and there(especially on Sensory Amusia), but it still does not take away from how great this band's potential is.
Recommended Tracks: Exospacial Psionic Aura, Alcoholocaust
Behold... the Arctopus is:
Colin Marston: Warr Guitar/Bass
Mike Lerner: Electric Guitar
Charlie Zeleny: Drums