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Pseudo/Sentai - Bansheeface CD (album) cover

BANSHEEFACE

Pseudo/Sentai

 

Crossover Prog

4.03 | 18 ratings

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Kazza3
3 stars Pseudo/Sentai's latest (and strongest) effort, Bansheeface, continues the band's move towards increasingly captivating and consistent music, and from a homegrown sound to a more professional one. The album is unreleased at the time of writing, but has been made available by the band to reviewers, upon request. The music is modern and schizophrenic at times, and from the point of view of a Mars Volta fan (whose influence on the band is often noted) it seems to marry the heavy guitars/organ/drums dominance of early Volta with smaller amounts of the synths and electronics of late Volta (and late Omar Rodriguez-Lopez solo albums). That's not to say the album sounds overtly like The Mars Volta- the influence is clearly there and the basis behind much of the sound may be similar- but the actual musical content is very different, being usually stranger, more eclectic and wayward, and less epic/anthemic.

The album is divided between major songs and a number of small interludes. The interludes, mostly based on very noisy synths/programmed beats, don't really seem to add a great deal to the album, the most interesting one being the intro track 'Quantum Cardboard'- which, however, doesn't make a great album opener. The synths integrated into the tracks proper are a much more interesting use. There are also ambient/concrete music interludes attached to the end of various tracks (in the style of such interludes on early Volta albums) which feel similarly stuck-on. The real music lies in the full-length songs, from the driving 'Terraformed Transcendence' to the heavy and rhythmic title track and the dark ostinato-based 'Classic Tactics of Xeno'. These are all bombastic, pitting the weight of the rhythm section (drummer Jeff Eber from Dysrhythmia assists a great deal here) against the multiple clever little guitar licks and keyboard flourishes. The frenetic twists and turns of the songs are sometimes too much, with too little to cling onto, leaving tracks feeling inconsistent and uninteresting- on the other hand there are also plenty of great hooks everywhere which really make the album. 'The Holy Metamorphacity' is another top track, and the weird Zeppelinesque ballad 'Black Matter of Machinations', by nature of the style, is one of the most coherent. The closing tracks begin to feel a little overly familiar (even if featuring a great guitar solo). The weakest point is the vocals, which, while mostly very good (and often excellent, especially when sung high and gritty as on 'Terraformed Transcendence' and others), are occasionally weak, unconvincing, or out of tune, a problem not helped by not really being mixed to the foreground, where the music usually demands they be. Additionally the vocals at the beginning of the weakest track 'Immaculation', almost rapped in a comedic style, are an unwelcome addition.

Overall, however, this is a very exciting album, doing a good job of balancing the drive against the flourishes, and of balancing the weirdness against the hooks.

Kazza3 | 3/5 |

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