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Larval - Predator or Prey CD (album) cover





3.13 | 11 ratings

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3 stars Rating: C+

It's always a risk to start a CD with its best track. After all, there is a very good chance it will overshadow the rest of the music on the CD and thus gradually lose the listeners interest. On the other hand, if a CD can deliver a stunning opener and follow it up with an equally (or at least nearly so) stunning remainder, the effect is tremendous (as I'm sure all of you have found to be the case at least once in your music listening). Larval, brainchild of Bill Brovold, definitely starts Predator or Prey with its strongest track, "One Last Flight". Unfortunately, the rest of the CD, with one exception, really doesn't live up, and Predator or Prey turns out somewhat disappointing because of that, even though it is actually quite a good release.

I suppose it would have been possible to see it coming even from the awesome first track. After all, between the heavy guitar riffs and the saxophone squeals that open and close the song, there is a section that's really quite dead, not doing anything to engage the listener. The rest of the CD has even more moments like that, unfortunately with the added problem that the music around them isn't nearly as exciting as that of "One Last Flight". The next three songs get progressively less interesting (more and more dominated by dead spots), finally culminating in the pointless "The Strange Farm", which never even attempts to get off the ground.

Thankfully, though, Predator or Prey takes a turn for the better at this point, as "The Crippled Dance" is similar to the opening track in terms of intensity and ability to maintain the listener's interest. The quirky, up-tempo "Half a Bubble Off" brings a humorous air to the largely oppressive music around it, and, again, always keeps the listener engaged. It doesn't let up from there, and the final stretch of Predator or Prey captures the better side of Larval, that of the almost metallic riffs with the jazz meets math rock saxophone and violin. "Alpha-Thejone" in particular deserves mention for its relentless pace - not really fast but certainly uncompromising. Because its momentum never slows, it never lapses into the dead spots that characterized some of the other songs on the CD. Unfortunately, there's "In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning", which, like "The Strange Farm", never really goes anywhere, but thankfully, it's only one song surrounded by four better ones.

Take just the strongest songs on Predator or Prey ("One Last Flight" and the last five minus "Wee Small Hours") and you've got an excellent thirty minute EP that would stand as an excellent avant-garde release that mixes math rock with metal and jazz. Unfortunately, throw in the second through fourth tracks and "Wee Small Hours" and you merely have a good, not great, CD that promises far more than it delivers. I'd definitely suggest listening before buying (it can be heard for free on, as it isn't good enough to warrant a blind purchase. Good, but it shows lots of unfulfilled potential.

Pnoom! | 3/5 |


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