Review Summary: Testing the waters for the actual dive...
10 years was a long time ago.
When Worse Than Alone
was released in March 2009, Barack Obama had been president for all of 2 months and Michael Jackson’s death was a scant 3 months down the road. The musical space The Number Twelve Looks Like You occupied was also in a great place, with the band themselves leading an underground grind scene pulsing with vitality. Fast forward to 2019 and you don’t see bands like Genghis Tron, Heavy Heavy Low Low, or those crazy fu
ckers in The Locust gaining any sort of notoriety anymore. Fans’ tastes shifted and “evolved”, their experimental grind phase becoming a fond memory of their youth. So what exactly does a relic like The Number Twelve Looks Like You have to offer at this point in time? As it turns out, quite a lot. Continuing confidently down the winding road of the Zappa-esque jazz influence heard on Worse Than Alone
the band prove their eclectic stylings sound just as fresh today as it did in 2009. Wild Gods
sees the band shedding even more grind influences from their sound, focusing more on a core of mathy (some may call mathcore) guitar compositions interspersed with jazzy interludes and wrapped in the band’s signature bleak, dystopian aura.
One of the biggest points of worry upon news of the band’s return was the glaring omission of longtime drummer Jon Karel, who’s decision to tend bar in New York instead of continue with the band served as a public signal of the band’s hiatus in 2010. While Mr. Karel is still absent, replacement Michael Kadnar makes the sting hurt less. Kadnar’s chops are apparent from the album’s opener “Gallery of Thrills” which showcases the multifaceted approach to the band’s songwriting and “Last Laughter”, an ode to the Mongrel
days. Vocalist Jesse Korman carries his weight with ease, displaying impressive range in his low and high screams. Korman’s amelodic drone-style singing, a staple of the band’s moody atmosphere, is also utilized to great effect, particularly at the end of “Last Laughter” where he elicits chills with a flat utterance, “I want to see how your insides work”.
The other remaining founding member Alexis Pareja unsurprisingly continues to be a revelation with his instrument, stitching Latin American and American jazz with the blistering speed of metal and grind riffs to create a disturbingly alluring tapestry of sound instantly recognizable by fans. In fact, perhaps by design, Wild Gods
sticks very close to the formula of Worse Than Alone
and comes off as the equivalent of dipping your toes into the pool before jumping in. You don’t come back after 10 years and completely change your sound, you gauge people’s reaction to your return first. Are they happy you’re back? Do they even care? Viewed through this lens, Wild Gods
is in a way the band’s greatest experiment. Fortunately, Wild Gods
should click instantly with fans of the band. The stage has been set for the next evolution of The Number Twelve Looks Like You, and while the highs of Wild Gods
don't excite quite the way you remember, you have to keep in mind...
10 years was a long time ago.