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Thinking Plague - In Extremis CD (album) cover

IN EXTREMIS

Thinking Plague

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

4.33 | 115 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Pnoom!
3 stars CONTENT OF REVIEW UNDER REVISION. TRUST THE RATING!

How best to describe this album? Perhaps I'll just say that it contains many pretentious qualities, and many pompous ones as well, such that you might even say that it contains them in extremis. I'm quite serious here (even if I was just looking for a way to use the album title to describe the album), as this album is just as pretentious as Tales From Topographic Oceans is rumored to be (though I don't really find Tales From Topographic Oceans to be pretentious, just self-indulgent, which then begs the question, what good music isn't self-indulgent? - I don't like Tale From Topographic Oceans, for the record). I usually despise using the word pretentious to describe music (as I just pointed out, self- indulgent usually works much better), because I think that, in truth, pop and rap music's tendencies towards self praise is more pretentious than prog's tendencies towards playing at your skill level (which is what Emerson, Lake, and Palmer and Yes did, among others). And self-indulgent, of course, isn't bad, because all it means is that you're playing music that satisfies you, rather than other people. This results in more musical integrity and fewer "clone" bands. But, anyway, back to this album. This album is self-indulgent (remember, that's a good thing), but it also really is pretentious.

I would almost never use the word pretentious to describe music (unless an band/artist was stealing from another band/artist, which truly is pretentious), but I will use it to describe lyrics, and the lyrics here are as pretentious as they come. They are falsely intelligent, trying to seem philosophical but ending up seeming petty more than anything else. The vocals fit them perfectly, though, I will admit (they sound very similar to those of Bob Drake of 5uu's, so much so that I have often wondered if he was actually singing the male vocal parts). But once we look past the lyrics and vocals (which I might describe as a "minor setback"), we find a core of excellent music. The bass is highly prominent in the mix, really carrying the songs, but the keyboards and guitar really add a lot as well. The only instrument that disappoints me is the drums. There is a nice combinations of short and long songs, giving every prog lover a little bit of something. They keep the songs engaging the entire time, never lapsing into boredom or losing any energy. They are very clearly prog, with plenty of odd time signatures and changes within songs.

In the end, I have to conclude about this album that it, for the most part, just isn't quite my style, though I do enjoy it and find it very good. It has intrigued me enough that I'll probably also try their A History of Madness album, which, from what I've heard, is better. For now, though, this one will serve me just fine, and I'd recommend it to all fans of avant-garde music, especially those interested in the American end of it. This one probably won't ever be one of my favorites, but I do recognize it as a great album. If you don't like avant-garde music, I wouldn't recommend this album to you, because it just wouldn't be worth your time. If you don't know avant-garde music yet, this album isn't a good place to start (Samla Mammas Manna, Secret Chiefs 3, Henry Cow, Frank Zappa, Captain Beefheart, and others are all better). Once you are familiar with the genre, however, you probably should venture here, because it is an album worth owning, as evidenced by the multitude of good reviews it has received on this site.

Pnoom! | 3/5 |

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