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Saturday, February 28, 2009

Behold... The Arctopus: Skullgrid

Year released: 2007
Label: Black Market Activities
Official Website: www.beholdthearctopus.com


1. Skullgrid [1:07]

2. Canada [5:31]

3. Of Cursed Womb [2:58]

4. You Are Number Six [8:50]

5. Some Mist [3:47]

6. Scepters [3:43]

7. Transient Exuberance [7:37]

Not strictly speaking, the music that Behold... The Arctopus plays would be to the contemporary music era what 20th Century music was to the classical music era. A strong preference for complicated instrumentals, irregular and perpetually schizophrenic rhythms, together with the blatantly obvious lack of vocals are what shapes the musical brilliance of this former trio (now a duo, as their drummer left recently in 2008) hailing from Brooklyn, New York City.

Behold... the technical mastery and insanity!: Be ready for a wild ride.

Right from the very first second of this album, BTA delves right into the systematic chaos instantly, wasting no time in explicitly telling the unsuspecting listener what they are in for. Well, in for a swift treat that is. With finger dexterity on the bass line that would make Robert Trujillo proud, rambunctious guitar riffs that would make Protest The Hero dying for a friendly duel, and drums that put the oomph into the music with its resounding air-vibrating thuds, this band sure doesn't do things the usual way. While most metal bands typically only bring in the main melodic idea of their music after some time into the music (and then plain development of it afterwards), BTA does it s-t-r-a-i-g-h-t-a-w-a-y whether you like it or not. In fact, they bring in multiple ideas at once nearly 100% of the time, and then abandon development on most of them afterwards, teasing the listener's ear. Rest assured though, at the very essence of their musicianship is the inspiration they gained from modern (20th Century, Impressionistic) and contemporary music (progressive rock, heavy metal), thus, there IS still a main melodic idea somewhere in each of their scatter-brained songs. A few listens should do the trick if you can't hear the main subject right away on the first listen, and you can definitely be forgiven for not being capable of that feat initially because of the 'overloading' experience the explosion of musical ideas BTA's music does to you.

We've got the Joker on our fingertips!: From left to right – Mike Lerner (Guitar), Colin Marston (Warr Guitar), Charlie Zeleny (Drums, left in December 2008)

One point of criticism about this album though, would be that as the album dashes along in all its 'here-there-everywhere' madness, it tends to fall into what I personally call the “Repetitive Trap” that oh-so-many bands these days fall into regardless of whatever genre they belong to. They overly emphasize on some insignificant portions of their songs from time to time, such as just plainly shredding or riffing in the post-climax section with no tangible aim or direction in mind, giving the impression to listeners that they are listening to the 'filler' section of the song. This induces the much-undesired act of intolerance that all musicians hate: Pressing of the 'Next' button. Also, alacritics might diss this album for the fast rhythm on every song that gets tiring sometimes, like bringing your ears on a full-sprint all the time without stopping to rest (although that would be to the rhythmic preference of the individual listener).

Watch those fingers fly and the fretboards burn!

Perfect for music aficionados looking for a blast of fresh air, Skullgrid is a good album that will definitely whet your appetite for more of such avant-garde music. Traditionalists might want to stay away from this album and the rest of BTA's music though, as music that does not stick to any perceivable structure, standard rhythms, and orthodox presentation of a sole musical idea is most definitely not your idea of audible pleasure.

Verdict: 9.4 / 10

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