Review Summary: If you are looking for something to file along Motorpsycho albums, this might be it.
Negativehate and their new album Solipsis will serve me as a reminder (at least for a while) that it is usually the best thing to leave your preconceptions aside and have an open mind, at least when music is concerned.
Being a longtime fan of Motopsycho and motivated by their recent brilliant new album Tower, I went into the usual online search “similar to…” A pile of stuff came up, and when I say pile, you can guess what one of the things pile is associated with. Negativehate was one of the results that came up somewhere in that jumble. Since personally, I’m not a big fan of stuff that goes these days as any category associated with metal, the name was an immediate put-off, so I simply skipped them the first time around.
Since my “similar to” picks from the pile first time around turned out to actually belong in “the pile”, I took another look at the discarded group. Again, checking out Negativehate’s profile, the fact that their first album “Earth Spirit Down” way back from 1995 was labeled as “industrial metal” and their second album was named “F You and Your Pink Mood”, they were left for the third and final round.
Desperate to find something good, I put on their latest, Solipsis. And then the preconceptions simply had to go down. It was immediately obvious that Negativehate has been around and that they have absorbed all sorts of musical concepts into their own. And yes, you can definitely put them in the category of metal/mellow/progressive experimentalists like Motorpsycho. At moments, the album also reminded me of the early Nineties brilliance of the Bitch Magnet album Ben Hur, and some louder moments of Slint’s David Pajo in his Papa M incarnation.
What is particularly exemplary is the fact that Negative hate can shift their instrumental sound from real metal to mellow, clean guitar sound and their vocal sound from guttural screamo to harmony vocals, sometimes reminiscent of the ‘classical’ giants like Blue Oyster Cult. And usually all that within one song. The quality of the sound is further enhanced by the involvement of such heavyweight engineers/producers like Paul Antonelli (from Al Di Meal to The Lumeneers) and Neil Dorfsman (Springsteen, Dylan, Def Leppard…). While none of the tracks falter at any point the exceptional one is “The expansion of the Universe”, which exemplifies all that is good about the sound of this band. It also turns out that Solipsis is based on a story the band wrote themselves; after all, Chuck Scandura, one of the two guys who formed the band, its current main man, guitar player and singer was a philosophy major in his college years.
All in all, Solipsis and Negativehate in its current musical incarnation, like Motorpsycho, is what the progressive music should sound like these days to be worthy of bearing such a label.