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Sleepytime Gorilla Museum - Of Natural History CD (album) cover

OF NATURAL HISTORY

Sleepytime Gorilla Museum

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

4.13 | 195 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Queen By-Tor
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Oh deary me! How delightfully disturbing and twisted!

Oh RIO, how many people this subgenre has touched over the years. This is one of the categories that is at the same time both criminally underrated and overrated, as it has many critics and many fanboys who would gladly take a bullet for it. The genre is usually ripe with dissonance and experimentation which leads the more melodic listeners to run and take shelter while the people who enjoy it will step out into the acid rain and say it tastes like rainbows. But if there's one thing everyone can agree on it's that this kind of music is normally very strange (which, contrary to popular belief does NOT automatically make it ''innovative'') and very much an acquired taste. With Of Natural History, Sleepytime Gorilla Museum [SGM] have created a wonderful opus that will both make the RIO connoisseurs jump for joy and give the more hesitant listeners a place to start with the genre.

One of the best things about this band is there very unique approach to the music that they play. Rock In Opposition (RIO), as stated before, is usually very lacking in melody and derives its audience from wild experimentation. SGM is often called MIO (Metal In Opposition) by a lot of people who have the chance to hear them, but even that may be an inaccurate statement while actually listening closely to the music. SGM have managed to blend RIO with a good amount of symphonic and very melodic tenancies with the chugging power of industrial music to make for a headbanging album which is still experimental and highly impressive. Instrumental sections to the album will not only flow but bash their way through the song in a way that grabs you and takes you along for the ride. The prime example of this is the excellent Bring Back The Apocalypse, driven by a good amount of fast chimes and drums until we get to a very beatarific ending in which the ''bring it, bring it back'' chanting begins and all hope is lost for those who don't know what to expect from the band.

The vocals are surprisingly a draw point to the album. Although gruff, the vocals add a surprising amount, especially with the two singer combo. The switch between the male and female leads make for an eclectic mix which is sure to keep you on the edge of your seat. After the bludgeoning raw power of The Donkey-Headed Adversary Of Humanity Opens The Discussion it's nice to go into the slow, but no less unsettling Phthisis which is voiced by Carla Kihlstedt (who sounds a lot like a twisted Bjork who has been locked in an insane-asylum for too long). The percussion is the other part of the band which really keeps things moving, especially in songs like Phthisis where it is damn near the only thing which keeps things together (and I mean that in a good way).

Other standouts on the album are plentiful. Most of the songs do tend to run together since the album is a concept album (which other reviews have gone into in cryptic detail, so I won't), but there's still a number of songs that work very well on their own. The who epics on the album which reach over 10-minutes are each very impressive. FC: The Freedom Club is a song that starts out slow and melodic but turns into one of the most dissonant songs on the album with the drums still managing to hold everything together - like a tornado which rips across the countryside, its debris does a lot of damage, but there's still one main force. Babydoctor is a much different beast, this one is a considerably slower to get going, but when it does it finally explodes with the force of a bomb. If you're not expecting it, well... prepare to be wiped out. The Creature works in tandem with it's intro instrumental, the incredibly creepy The 17-Year Cicada to go through a mostly spoken-word like story which is obviously a metaphor for something (and the political views shine through yet again). Gunday's Child is another Carla Kihlstedt voiced track which is a lot more frantic and desperate than the last song she voiced, but still it sounds like you're standing in the mansion from The Shining looking down the hallway to two girls who can only say to you, ''hello Danny...'' (or whatever your name is).

For people who like things heavy and experimental will be over the moon with this album, and people who don't fancy themselves masters of RIO will still be able to get into the album thanks to the way it's been done. A fair warning though, don't expect anything going into this album, because you're not going to get it. Expect the unexpected I suppose would be the cliche line to add in here. 4 cockroaches out of 5 for a wild ride which everyone should take at some point or another.

Queen By-Tor | 4/5 |

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