Review Summary: A smoothie of elements from previous releases all comes together here.
What brought you here? Were you a fan of Berries Alive like most of the fandom? Did you drop him like a hot papaya when you first heard the inconsistency of Fuego? Did the abrupt change in production quality make your head spin like a banana-nut smoothie and kinda piss you off? Have you just always hated this project and wished Charles kept trucking on with Reflections and this fruity food-fight would have never happened and now you're just checking in on your favorite punching bag in the vast self-production scene? Personally I don't care what reason you're here for, but the fact is, you're here. Let's dive right into this "Charles and the Giant Peach" of an album.
What will you find in this sweet blend of sonic harshness that is Berried Treasure? Dig deep enough and you'll find some old seeds of influence harkening from Soulsucker and even Fool's Gold. The gritty grinding of syncopated and palm-muted riffs ala Berries Alive hasn't gone anywhere, although they do take a more subtle and reserved place in this tall drink, to make way for more subdued, atmospheric vocals, and production-laden trap beats we've all come to appreciate here in this great year of 2023. This release feels so in place with what catches the ear for our audience of diverse tastes, while still delivering that tech-death edge of absurd guitar leads and solos. The soaring solo in Seeds of Doubt, for example, could be edited into a modern anime intro and I wouldn't bat an eye. The attitude of the solo in Pomicide evokes a spirit of the late Dimebag Darrell, who unironically is a huge influence of Charles'. The relentless energy of Masterpeach that stands out amongst the album is proof that Berried Alive is still that ear candy that we've come to appreciate from this artist. It all comes together in this album, and there's rarely a brown spot that really lets you down as you're digesting everything.
On the subject of rotting fruit, let's get the usual tropes out of the way. Is Charles just recording everything at half tempo and then speeding them up to achieve his level of perfection of production quality? Probably, I don't know. Couldn't care less, to be honest. I've never felt like this was a skid mark on the music unless you're trying to be the next Vai or Malmsteen. The point of all this, to me, is to make unique music that resonates with who you think will relate to it, and I'm sure if you gave it a chance, you'll find a gem or two on Berried Treasure that feels like it was written just for you. An "X" on the map, so to speak.
Lyrically, I'd compare this release with Charles' previous work. We're not seeing anything poetically revolutionary, although simple lines such as "you can't ghost me/I'm a phantom/can't explain me, must be random" are laughable but enjoyable in the right context. It just depends on how you approach this iteration of on-the-nose, yet, emotional thematic elements. If you're a fan of Post Malone or Lil' Peep, or even Mac Miller, there's some sweet spots on this more-than-ripe fruit to taste, if you can eat around the more self-loathing lyrics we've heard since forever.
This release really is just a prism to focus the rainbow of fruity colors we've come to know from Charles. If you're one to pick apart his contrasting releases and be left frustrated with an air of lack-of-consistency from his work over the years, I really do think you'll find a comfortable medium here. If you've never liked this project, you're not really missing anything here, but this album's more gracious acceptance for a mainstream blend of harmony and lyrical themes might sway you. I've personally taken a rather large swig from this smoothie of elements, and I've very satisfied, although a splash of Maker's Mark would make it all the much more enjoyable. Cheers.