Review Summary: Brisbane rock royalty chase tail on dissapointing third album.
Many words are fitting when attempting to describe Australian band The Butterfly Effect. “Epic” is certainly one that will often come up amongst fans- a title rightly deserved with the band’s fantastic 2003 debut, Begins Here
. “Consistent” is another, describing the steady, tried-and-tested sound of the band’s next record, 2006’s Imago
; a fine album, but significantly missing the spark of the previous effort. Heavy, melodic, emotional and excellent performers are others that will be used invariably. But “predictable”? “Average”? Even “boring”? Surely blasphemy has occurred. Unfortunately, these are the words that creep into conscience throughout the band’s third effort, Final Conversation of Kings
. Despite some shining moments, there appears to be little to no heart or effort left in what TBE are doing as musicians.
One of the most discussed elements of this record thus far has been the inclusion of a horn section in some of the songs. Unfortunately, a collective cameo of about 90 seconds on a 40 minute record does not equate to a revelatory progression of the music. For what it’s worth, however, where it is used creates an interesting and contrasting soundscape- the call and response of the trumpet and vocalist Clint Boge in the opening verse of “The Way”, albeit a fleeting moment, is a highlight of the album. Its inclusion in the seven minute opus “Worlds on Fire” is also a welcome change, even giving the song a momentary feel of free jazz.Another standout moment on the record is the blistering and well-crafted “Room Without a View”. The song transitions perfectly from guitarist Kurt Goedhart’s Edge-like introductory lead guitar to a fast-paced, clean-toned chord strum, before striding powerfully into a dominant 6/8 hard rock tour-de-force. This the kind of song that TBE are certainly well-versed in, yet can still do in an energetic and passionate way, as evidenced here.
Certainly, if this was a continued trend throughout Final Conversation
, and the better ideas on offer were more thought out, then we would almost certainly have a superior record on our hands. But the main issue here to be had is the perceivable lack of ambition on behalf of the band. Taking predominance here is an overbearing sense of familiarity. Granted, the band are more than proficient musicians, and one can always take the argument of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. But, honestly, how are we as listeners meant to be excited by music that we can already foresee exactly where a lead break will occur, where the vocals will be emphasised…even how the song will end? Tracks such as “Seven Days”, “Rain” and lead single “The Window and the Watcher” are particularly guilty of such predictability. They are enjoyable songs for those that are already infatuated with the Butterfly Effect sound (lots of guitar crunch mixed with echoing, crystal-clear bass patterns, Jeff Buckley warbling and aggressive Maynard-inspired grit), but there is simply nothing to entice the listener beyond this.
It should be emphasised that Final Conversation
is by no means bad. What it is, however, is bitterly disappointing- especially given the quality- and, especially, originality- of their previous works. This is the band that once strived for “One second of insanity”. On here, however, you’ll be lucky to find even that.
Listen to Final Conversation at: www.myspace.com/thebutterflyeffectau