Behold... The Arctopus - Horrorscension
Record Label: Black Market
Release Date: October 23, 2012
I listen to Behold... The Arctopus for the same reason that anyone else would: you'll never hear anything like it anywhere else. Whether that's a good or bad thing is really up to preference, and the common reaction is usually "this is complete garbage." Sure, the fans will throw out the argument "Oh, you'll never appreciate this band without an open mind to music," or "This isn't just random fiddling around, they actually carefully calculated out each sixteenth note and time signature with expert music theory knowledge." The fact is, a lot of people really don't care. To them, it still sounds like technical death metal of which the sheet music has been shredded and randomly rearranged. For all of you that appreciate this band or care to take a closer look into their madness, I'll be explaining it to the best of my ability while telling you what I like about it.
First of all, the biggest problem with the new album is the departure of Charlie Zeleny. This is the man that was able to play a drum solo on an entire building. There is pretty much no better fit for the band than Zeleny, so seeing him get replaced, even with someone as talented as his replacement Weasel Walter, is a shame. Anyway, down to business. BTA released their debut full length Skullgrid in 2007. This album featured fast riffs, sporadic drums, and the use of a Warr guitar, essentially half guitar, half bass. The songs were generally interesting; each one almost entirely distinct from the next. With the band's new release Horrorscension, the goal was to continue this trend of trying to keep each song sounding like the same random nonsense. Most of the time, they're actually able to use song structure to give their songs a stronger individual identity, in addition to not shredding throughout the entirety of each song. I try not to use that word for a band like this, though, because it really isn't just shredding the notes of a scale, it's carefully picking out whatever notes they think fit the song, no matter how little sense it may make to someone else. Either way, this can be seen on the last four songs of Horrorscension.
I personally believe that no song can top "Canada" off their last album, but in terms of being a solid album overall, Horrorscension definitely has the upper hand. Whether it's the simple and broken down ending of "Horrorsentience," the epic and spooky "Anihilvore," or the minute-long burst of raw insanity in "Putrefucktion," there's always something different to enjoy among these six tracks. Although, "Monolithic Destractions" and "Disintegore" do come off as mindless and devoid of any indication that they're songs besides the repetition, which doesn't even help make the songs any stronger. It just kind of adds to a jumbled mess that even fans of the band would consider too busy to be worth listening to. I'd say "Distintegore" is still worth listening to, but "Monolithic Destractions" is just a flop.
Now, if you're looking for more insight into the band's actual sound, you're not going to really get it until you listen for yourself. The most important thing you can do is heed my warning from the beginning of this review. They play everything from guitar sweeps, dissonant harmonies between the Warr guitar and the regular guitar, lightning fast sections, and thick chords. All of this is layered over a pounding and thrashy drum beat that constantly runs through different fills that are often as sporadic as the guitars. The thing is, though, that all of these crazy elements some how come together and create something unified. There is actually structure and there are common themes in the songs. It may take an open mind to get into them, or maybe it will simply take a while to get used to their style, but Behold... The Arctopus truly has released a dynamic record, and fans of progressive, metal, and avant-garde music are sure to be impressed.