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Brain Tentacles - Brain Tentacles CD (album) cover


Brain Tentacles


Experimental/Post Metal

3.00 | 1 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
3 stars BRAIN TENTACLES is a newer breed of hardcore bands that strives to create the ultimate fusion effect by tackling the disparate styles of metal and jazz and making them swirl around and dance together like a ballerina in a Russian palace. This Chicago based trio is comprised of three music veterans with Bruce Lamont (Yakuza, Blloodlest, etc) contributing horns, vocals and keys, Dave Witte (Discordance Axis, Municipal Waste, etc) on drums and Aaron Dallson (Keelhaul) on bass, vocals and synth. It's been over 25 years since John Zorn and his project Painkiller first unleashed the creative possibilities of mixing avant-garde jazz with metal elements and although a few bands like Mr Bungle, Zu and Diablo Swing Orchestra tackled the jazz meets metal thing in their own unique ways, it has not exactly been a highly tackled type of fushion and even rarer that BRAIN TENTACLES reverts back to the original Zorn formula by leaving out any trace of metal guitar whatsoever.

Despite the bass being the only stringed instrument on board here, it somewhat adequately covers the metal stomping grounds as it pummels along with the intense percussive workouts and creates a relentless rhythmic drive while Lamont channels his inner Zorn to deliver the sax lines that provide the melodic structure of the compositions. He's also quite the accomplished soloist however he doesn't delve into the freakazoid zone like Zorn tends to with pig squeals and unearthly torturous timbres. The music on this one tends to stay within the accessibility zone with mostly short and to-the-point tracks but delivers a few progressive treats such as the lengthy "Cosmic Warriors Girth Curse" which sounds like the disparate sounds of doom metal meeting surf rock (think Dick Dale & His Del-Tones in the horn department) and one of the few tracks to contain vocals which happen to sounds frantic enough to come from the extreme metal underground world of grind or metalcore. It's actually one of the best tracks as it even ventures into psychedelic Krautrock meanderings while the drums churn along in their own world.

Tracks like "Hand Of God" start out sounding like a high school marching band really wanting to be a doom metal band instead and since the album was produced by Sanford Parker of Minsk and Yob fame, it's no wonder that some doom metal aspects made it into the mix. "The Spoiler" is probably the most intense and closest to metal with screaming vocals, crushing bass and drums except for a sax instead of a guitar! The grooves are fast and frenetic. "The Sadist" is another metal monster with black metal raspy vocals and the usual bass and sax shtick however the drums are on fire on this one and perhaps the best percussion on the entire album. "Fata Morgana" takes on a post-metal type of flavor with sultry speakeasy sax ostinato that takes on a Swans type of vocal style. "Palantine" is the longest track clocking in at over 12 and 1/2 minutes and begins as a monotonous jazzy groove that extends to over 4 minutes and then turns into a lame telephone conversation that goes nowhere and seems like it will never end. I absolutely HATE these types of things tacked on to the end of the album. It's another attempt to add some humor but fails to do so and seriously cheapens the serious effect of the rest of the album. This whole track should have been chucked. A total waste of time.

While i wouldn't call the sound of BRAIN TENTACLES revolutionary or anything since the idea has been around for well over two decades, they do manage to create a much more melodic take of Zorn's vision and de-emphasize the chaotic aspects to a certain degree and tame them into more digestible forms. The hypnotic repetitive parts add a solid foundation to the rhythm while the conservative solos are dished out only occasionally for contrast's sake. Several aspects water this interesting album down for me a bit. First are the childish conversational bits such as on "Gassed" and "Palantine" which sound like some teenage funk rock bands from the 80s. Secondly is the band isn't always adventurous enough to keep the ideas interesting. While the Zorn influences are aplenty, there is never any larger than life moments that transcend the listener into another dimension like excellent avant-garde and experimental music should. While the overall songs are themselves well composed, BRAIN TENTACLES just doesn't go beyond an established comfort zone. A little more hot sauce on the plate please. Having said that, this is a decent debut album that shows great potential and has a great variation of styles on display. I do however think they would sound better with at least some guitar supplementation on board or even some other instrumental contribution as the music seems a little sparse at times.

siLLy puPPy | 3/5 |


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