Review Summary: On the delineation between "could" and "should"
The late 90s were as good a time for musical experimentation as any. A decade of various cross-pollination birthed nu metal, even the typically rigid extreme metal scene was having a field day with all sorts of unusual influences. Given this context, it isn't all that surprising that some band tried blending metallic grunge with ska, yielding something not too far removed from a ridiculously dumbed down, radio-ready spin on Mr. Bungle's eponymous debut. The problem is that when you remove the omnipresent schizophrenia from Mike Patton's musical alma mater, play the off-beat 2 Tone chords with a straight face and mix in a hefty dose of grunge's melancholy (often at the same time!) you end up with a disgusting bipolar mosaic that seems to want to be taken seriously but fails on every front. Case in point - Superabsorbent kicks off with "Precious One", and the frontman sees it fit to croon "I know your messed up mind, I know you're dreaming of suicide and you're in bed with a gun waiting on heaven to save you" as the bass and guitar deliver a sunny vamp underneath. Or, for the reverse effect, check out the chorus of "Superduperfunkin' Groovin' Fuzzywuzzyloveathon" which sees the title of the song reprised over and over again over meaty power chords. There may be historical precedent for miserable ska and happy grunge, but it just refuses to gel here in either configuration.
That's not to say that the record is entirely disposable. Even Rude is actually a hell of a bleak grunge band when they see fit to act as one, and "Under Tongue" is a genuinely moving cut until a pointless bass and organ section rolls around just as the song ends, tacking on an entirely unnecessary 45 seconds that shatter any immersion and credibility the song may have created. The band's experimentation works when they deviate from their basic dead on arrival template, and unsurprisingly it involves them venturing into darker realms instead of the forced upbeat splices they seem to keen to execute. "Vilified", easily the band's most known song, juxtaposes the omnipresent thick riff work with some grimy, groovy bass for a truly menacing track. Plus, the singer has an unbelievable set of pipes on him, and it's beyond me as to why someone didn't headhunt him for a project that would utilise his mournful, raspy delivery to full effect. That, or just slap the nonsense out of this band, as when things work they really work. There's a reason why "Vilified" and not "Superduperfunkin' Groovin' Fuzzywuzzyloveathon" is the closest the band got to fame.