Review Summary: "I know exactly where we are...where the fuck are we?!"
Incubus’ debut “Fungus Amongus,” was an interesting and somewhat groundbreaking release, infusing elements of several different musical genres together to create something very unusual. At the time, it appeared that Incubus was attempting to find themselves by combining these genres, and came off as a fascinating and ambitious band. Despite its extraordinary structure, the 1995 record was flawed by raw production, an absence of variety, and a few messy tracks. Incubus seemed to have responded well to the mixed acclaim of “Fungus Amongus,” for their follow-up “S.C.I.E.N.C.E.” is a much more cohesive record that is superior in almost every way. With “S.C.I.E.N.C.E.” Incubus had become even more innovative, allowing effects and turntablist DJ Lyfe to take on a much larger role. The turntables are a major focal point for the band’s music to this day, and are still one of the factors that separate Incubus from the rest of the rock community.
“S.C.I.E.N.C.E.” makes much more of a bold statement than its predecessor; it is less funky and heavier, and rarely ceases to lose its sheer brutality. From the beginning of the album this becomes apparent, for Redefine
features thundering bass and a lethally distorted guitar riff. Not unlike on “Fungus Amongus,” Dirk Lance’s staggering bass work serves as the foundation and possibly the underscore of the record, with his solo in Redefine
providing further evidence of this. Lance is still presenting the band’s sound with a great deal of funk, even if this is true to a lesser extent than the debut. The album still has its share of grooving tracks, with both Summer Romance
and Deep Inside
following this formula. The former is the record’s lone ballad, and is tastefully and delicately developed in such a way that it gives off a spacey vibe. This song in particular features some of Brandon’s best vocals and a surprise appearance of a saxophone in the solo section. “S.C.I.E.N.C.E.” doesn’t fail to throw at the listener non-conventional music, with Deep Inside
being one of the record’s most intriguing tracks. Deep Inside
seems as though it would be more fitting on “Fungus Amongus,” but is superior to nearly every song on that release. The verses are groovy as hell and build to a completely unpredictable chorus with Brandon mindlessly screaming as he is complemented by heavily distorted guitar. Deep Inside
is propelled by several different changes, and includes a bit of comic relief with Brandon saying, “I know exactly where we are…where the *** are we?” as Mike proceeds to wail on his guitar. The listener is even introduced to congo drumming in Vitamin
, just another indication of the band’s innovative style.
The record as a whole is quite chaotic, but in a much more organized and well developed way than “Fungus Amongus.” New Skin
is quite hectic, in such a way that it makes you feel as though you need to jump around the room like a mad person. A Certain Shade of Green
has a similar effect, riding an ultra-heavy riff at a backbreaking pace. Brandon is not afraid to display his aggressive and merely ruthless vocal style throughout these tracks; screaming and complementing the ridiculous tempo with great virtuosity. Even in a more laid-back atmosphere such as in Idiot Box
, Brandon is subtly firing out his vocals at a frenzied pace when necessary, and powerful at other instances. What is deciphered from all this is a front man that seems to have both a great deal of talent and a character, which are two characteristics notable with most tremendous rock bands.
As inconceivable as “S.C.I.E.N.C.E.” is, the band had not developed completely and matured as songwriters, something that would be addressed in Incubus’ upcoming albums. This particular release is varied more than its predecessor, but not to an extent at which the record appears entirely diverse. Redefine
, A Certain Shade of Green
, New Skin
, and several others are very similarly structured tunes, exposing a weakness in the album. With a few more tracks presenting a different vibe such as Deep Inside
or Summer Romance
, “S.C.I.E.N.C.E.” could very well be in superb or even classic territory, but for it’s worth is still excellent. Many will claim that Incubus had reached their peak here, but descendants “Make Yourself,” and “Morning View” prove to be more mature (even though commercial) releases.
A Certain Shade of Green