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A Lonely Crowd - User Hostile CD (album) cover

USER HOSTILE

A Lonely Crowd

 

Heavy Prog

3.93 | 26 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

VanVanVan
Prog Reviewer
4 stars If you want to get an idea of how much variation Lonely Crowd was able to smash into this album, listen to the first and last tracks. The album begins with something that can almost be called a country twang; gorgeous female vocals intertwine with a quirky acoustic guitar part that, absurdly enough, reminds one of the acoustic moments of Between the Buried and Me. Already, a listener (and hopefully, a reader) begins to see that Lonely Crowd is far from complacent; they are entirely unwilling to sit within one genre even on a 1 minute introductory track.

If you continued to follow my advice and went on to the last track, you would scarcely know you were listening to the same band. The breezy, acoustic twang has been replaced by a hyper-aggressive sound that falls somewhere between Rage Against The Machine and Pain of Salvation. Gone too are the lilting melodies of our previous female vocalist, in their place we find male vocals snarling and spitting; belting and screaming in a way that is by turns abrasive and melodic. Think of "Used" by Pain of Salvation and add in another heaping spoonful of screed and you'd have a pretty good mental picture of what the song is all about.

So now you know how the album starts, and how it ends. What's important, though, is what lies between, and I can't imagine that the gamut of styles that comprises the meat of this album will leave any prog fan disappointed. The powerful instrumental "Barbed Haywire" juxtaposes heavy, almost math-rock guitar against dreamy atmospheres and disturbing ambiences, mixing flute melodies with crunching guitar riffs to create a track that wouldn't have sounded out of place on Steven Wilson's Grace for Drowning. The epic and beautiful "Glass Eyes" crosses fuzzed out riffs with frenetic flute parts and tosses wonderfully harmonized vocals on top to evoke the heaviest dream you ever had. "Make You Scream" mixes an almost martial drum-beat with psychedelic, heavy guitar and then channels Joni Mitchell and Grace Slick in equal parts to deliver a slinky, powerful vocal line on top of it all. The jangly "Bipolar Bear" sounds like someone bought a music box from hell's gift shop and then sampled it in a song inspired by King Crimson's "Red." "Mustard Brush Tango" combines an Ennio Morricone soundtrack with metal polka by way of Estradasphere. These descriptions are becoming increasingly ridiculous but hopefully you begin to get the idea.

It wouldn't surprise me to learn that the band members were big fans of both Opeth and Porcupine Tree; I can pick out the kind of almost-dissonant, weirdly tonal guitar parts that seem to be all over Opeth albums, and there are melodic elements that I think could have fit very well on Porcupine Tree albums. That said, however, the way the band has managed to take all of these sounds and synthesize them into something new really is remarkable. I'm reminded at times of Leprous and Pain of Salvation, as well as the aforementioned groups, and yet, I'm hestitant to even label this a metal album. There's just too much variety in the construction and style of the tracks for me to really be comfortable calling it anything in particular, to be honest, except perhaps to remark that it would seem to fall into the nebulous categorization of "heavy prog" in the most literal sense, even though it's not always heavy.

If I have one gripe with the album it's that I think it runs a tad long; there's just so much packed into an already fairly long album (about an hour) that it can be challenging to sit through in one listen. That said, it's a tremendously impressive piece of progressive music and one that should simultaneously sound familiar and fresh to devotees of progressive rock. Excellent, if slightly challenging stuff.

4/5

VanVanVan | 4/5 |

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