Review Summary: An unabashedly eclectic, yet totally seductive electro-metal freak-out of an album. There's no need to remain seated.
Formed from the ashes of Baltimore-based Dog Fashion Disco, Polkadot Cadaver quite significantly broke away from the prior act's eclectic blend of experimental metal on their first disc, “Purgatory Dance Party," which was released nearly four years ago. While sharing the same stylistic sensibilities which involve pitch-black humor and open black mass references, the band's core sound revolved around rather ingenious, yet spastic electronica. With their new album, ”Sex Offender,“ Polkadot Cadaver return to the less cryptic metallic style of Dog Fashion Disco, crafting an album that's very much in line with that band's second major release, “Committed To A Bright Future,” being equally straightforward, psychotic and seductive.
Once again though, the influences are all over the place, with the act overtly venturing into a plethora of music styles that are theoretically inadvisable to combine. This eclecticism, which is supported by efficient songwriting as well as top-notch musicianship, is the selling point of the entire album. The frenetic technical metal passages are coupled with twisted melodies. Heavily distorted, funk-induced bass lines, devilish polka piano stabs and abrasive new-wave synths are also in abundance. The crazed electro-metal approach superbly blends with routinely diverse, powerful vocals courtesy of Todd Smith. He shines with his infectiously soothing choruses, hunting whispers, demonic growls and more.
Despite numerous stylistic twists and turns, the album happens to be more cohesive than the previous one due to the band capturing their sound in a more organic manner. Whereas “Purgatory Dance Party” felt like a collection of various songs which were often not connected with one another, “Sex Offender” contains compositions that share the same musical aura. This makes the new album easier to digest and thus way more accessible, especially given the non-linear progressions and addictive choruses occurring in almost every song.
Polkadot Cadaver show they are capable of blending various genres seamlessly in the record's standout tracks. “Bloodsucker” interweaves funk-metal with atmospheric verses and an excellent sing-along chorus. In “Starlight Requiem” an abrasive metal attack coexists with dreamy, fairy tale-like passages. “Slaughterhouse Striptease” effectively showcases the dissonant theatricality of the act, whereas “Cake And Eat It Too” is the album's definite genre shifter that features a spastic piano solo recalling The Paper Chase. The disc ends with a tender soul-induced ballad, “Forever And A Day,” which wouldn't feel out-of-place on Faith No More's classic “Angel Dust.”
Due to its subversive lyrical content, “Sex Offender” could make for an excellent soundtrack to a demented horror movie. Similarly to this type of cinema, it comes as an acquired taste. The fans of avant garde metal music shouldn't be discouraged though as the album is sufficiently unique and genre-bending. It certainly requires much more attention than it's ever going to get.