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4 stars CARDIACS' SING TO GOD is a double album of utter delight and without a dull moment. Of its type - and it's one of a kind - it very nearly deserves 5 stars and is well worth exploring.

It's odd, but you listen once and you just don't get it. Give it a couple of listens and you're totally hooked. This is very clever music with complex chord structures that defy the norm, but it's music which also happens to be extremely catchy. I wouldn't single out any song as better than any other, but DOG LIKE SPARKY is a song of pure nonsense at its most ingenious and is totally excellent - its my two your daughters' favourite song at the moment.

Give it time and this band will get under your skin. Every prog CD collection should contain this album.

Report this review (#33729)
Posted Tuesday, February 15, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Talking about a band in a blender, this album is seriously good, complex, funny and highly elaborated. The overaal sound is exactly what I just describe: a band in a blender. Great (I mean great) composition over here, almost a luxury. The work of this band is beyond my expectations, their use of vocal harmony, wich reminds of certain Zappa / Residents Works, is like an acoustic aluscination, surrounded with that disstorted melodies that compose the full body of the album. A dream for any experimental rock fan, with a tremendous sense of humour, and a level of work on every minute of music that makes me think (with disgust) about the lazy work of other bands (I shall not mention any). Incredible structures, an acid soundscape, great control of mix and studio resources, and a very original aproach to music. Perhaps a bit too noisy, but that can also be perceived as a good thing. Absolutelly recommendable.
Report this review (#76873)
Posted Tuesday, May 2, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Not an album for prog purists but if you don't mind a bit of punk with your prog (and psychedelia and about twenty styles thrown into the mix) and you have a few months to actually try and understand the music then you have one of the most original, most coherent and most well executed albums - certainly of the 90s and quite possibly ever. Somehow even among Cardiacs albums Sing to God stands out, both in terms of being a strong contender for their best album and also in terms of sounding very different even to their other albums - although with enough listenings some similarities between Sing to God and the albums that preceded and followed it (Heaven Born and Ever Bright and Guns, respectively) can be heard.

This album is perhaps their most overtly chaotic sounding but is also their most eclectic in terms of influences, more punk-influenced tracks than since their tape album days (notably Bell Stinks and Bell Clinks and Angleworm Angel), a couple of folk influenced tracks (Fairy Mary Mag, Foundling), acoustic rock elements (in Flap Off You Beak and Odd Even) and even gospel (in Bellyeye). At first listen it may sound more noisy and angular than the rest of Cardiacs' output due to the high pitch of the backing singers, the compositional method (with Jon Poole writing the guitar parts and Tim Smith writing the remainder of the song around these in many songs) and the reams of punk energy that are perhaps more restrained in the rest of their output. Once you've got over the initial shock of the sheer energy and technicality of the music the melodies and subtle details begin to shine through and after enough listens you can hear subtleties in the music that many albums, even in progressive rock, simply lack.

Lyrically this album demonstrates the typical mid and late Tim Smith style of lyric writing - with the songs all having a deeper meaning but also appearing very opaque. The lyrics often fall off-meter and this can add an extra dimension of complexity to some songs but are nevertheless heartfelt. For those who are keen on music theory the technicalities of the music should also be an attraction - there is an analysis online of the music theory of one of the most outwardly "normal" and "simple" sounding tracks on this album which underscores the sheer attention to detail that this seemingly chaotic band put into their music, Google "Odd Even" on

Highlights of the album include Dirty Boy (where the final note is sustained for three minutes!), Nurses Whispering Verses (a re-recording of a very old Cardiacs song), Bellyeye, Dog-Like Sparky, Fiery Gun Hand, Bell Clinks and Bell Stinks and Flap Off You Beak.

For a new listener of Cardiacs this is perhaps a good avenue into getting the band, particularly if your background is in progressive metal (especially tech/extreme progressive metal), the more interesting side of punk or avant-prog bands in the style of Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, Estradasphere or Mr. Bungle. For those of a more 70s prog or neo-prog bent I'd recommend starting with A Little Man and a House and maybe giving yourself about twice the time you normally would to let the album sink in. Once again, I would like to state that this album is not for progressive rock purists, if you're expecting this album to sound like early Genesis then it's inevitable that you will hate it - many people who dislike this band do so because they come in expecting something else entirely and are obviously disappointed as a result. However, with an open mind and enough time then this album is one of the most unique, enjoyable listens that you will be likely to ever find.

Report this review (#130910)
Posted Tuesday, July 31, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars I was first introduced to the Cardiacs by way of Youtube videos for "Tarred and Feathered" and "RES". Both videos feature manic, zombie soldiers hitting each other or themselves while playing DEVO/Stickmen meet Gentle Giant type music; seemingly a precursor to groups like Mr. Bungle. I went and got "A Little Man and a House..." and was pleased to find exactly what I was looking for: a spastic, genre hopping prog/punk group with ambitious studio production and an occasional pop sensibility to boot. However, I mostly treated it as an important historical moment, rather than something I'd want to really listen to more than a couple times.

A few months passed and after reading some reviews on Amazon about how great "Sing To God" was, I managed to get my hands on a copy. Now, in this age of free music, it's easy for me to brush off a lot of great, forgotten or obscure bands. But on first ipod listening while walking across the city (Philadelphia) I had to pick my jaw up off the ground at least five times. This double album is a monster of creative, insane, epic, punk, prog, and incredible art pop. It seems to me that their creativity and understanding of song craft reached a fever pitch, practically exploding out of the stereo on every song. "Dirty Boy" is a masterpiece. I listened to it 3 times in a row to really let it sink in. Where their earlier efforts touched on moments of pop, this album effortlessly blends soaring melodies with a hyper focused barrage that hadn't quite come together until this moment. Tim Smith's grating punk affect takes a backseat to confident melodic shifts without losing any sense of urgency; in fact creating more tension and propulsion in the compositions.

The only thing I can really compare this album to is if XTC were jettisoned through an unstable wormhole and ripped apart by neon lazer canons. It's beautiful, disturbing, pumped up and it's one of the greatest double albums I've ever heard. Go get it.

Report this review (#148731)
Posted Saturday, November 3, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Rating: A+

Oh wow. Oh wow, oh wow, oh wow. Shall I say it again? Oh wow.

Sorry for not being professional but. wow. Just wow. I can and will wax poetic about this album in this review, but I will never be able to describe it more accurately than I just have with "wow." This is a stunning album from start to finish, a masterpiece through and through. Sing to God is one of those few (I currently only know twelve) albums that can truly be described as flawless, and it is the only one that is a double CD (as opposed to a double album, which will often amount to only a single CD). In 22 songs, Tim Smith and co. present the most concise (yes, concise) view of exactly how good the "pronk" (progressive punk) subgenre can be.

Sadly, the Cardiacs are virtually unknown, even in the progressive world (though they once opened for Marillion and were pelted with a variety of unsavory objects). It's difficult enough to find this album (though it's currently available through the band's website), let alone for a reasonable price, but is it ever worth it. If you are willing to take the risk and buy this album, you will be rewarded beyond your wildest dreams. The theme of this album may be of the hidden sins of religion (at least, that's how I interpret it), but the album itself is pure heaven without a single fault in sight.

I pride myself on being very open-minded about music (with appropriate credit given to Can's Tago Mago for making me that way), and I find that I can enjoy just about any style of music when it's done well. Not only that, I also find that I like albums ranging the gamut from slow, meditative kick-back albums to fast, pounding, blood-pumping roller coasters. This album definitely falls into the latter category. This album is so full of energy that it even wears off on me; I cannot listen to this album without pacing to get rid of the tension I feel. For the record, there are no other albums I can say this about.

Amazingly, that is only one of many ways this album is unique. Perhaps the most accurate description of the Cardiacs' music (other than "wow") is that they sound simultaneously like everyone and no one. On this album, you will hear traces of a fair few of the bands you know (even some of those who came later than the Cardiacs), and yet the Cardiacs will not strike as derivative of any of them, because the end result is completely different from any other band. Thankfully, this mish-mash of influences and innovations comes together perfectly, creating a stellar flow for the album.

This flow comes from the fact that Sing to God, while incredibly musically diverse, ultimately bases itself on one sound. They take the energy of punk (raised a few orders of magnitude) and mix with it the experimentation of post-punk and the song development of progressive rock, a combination that can be heard in full force on almost every track, but on "Dirty Boy" in particular. Thus, if you like bands like This Heat, Hella, Uz Jsme Doma, and even The Mars Volta, you will find plenty to appreciate here. All of these bands fuse punk and prog (and often other musical styles as well), but none quite so effectively as the Cardiacs.

The leader of the Cardiacs, Tim Smith, has earned the nickname "Ludwig Von" for his compositional skills, and it's easy to see why on Sing to God. The level of intelligence present easily rivals that of great classical composers, with the added bonus that this music rocks in a way that classical just can't. Lyrically, the album seems to revolve around the sins of religion (as I mentioned earlier), though I can't be sure. I base this interpretation off the multiple references to dirt (and dirt-related things, such as worms) and the equally prominent references to religion ("Sing to God," "we will praise him," "Jesus will hold his fiery hand to the gun"), but I haven't actually analyzed the lyrics.

And so, now that I've talked about the various reasons why this album as a whole is astounding, I probably ought to go into more detail about some of the better songs on the album. It seems that every review of the Cardiacs' Sing to God mentions three songs, "Dog Like Sparky," "Fiery Gun Hand," and "Dirty Boy," and for good reason, as these are three standout songs, but I won't go into too much detail about them, as I'd rather focus on the less-respected but equally good pieces of genius on the album. Most prominent among these is "Nurses Whispering Verses." The main theme (musically) is one of if not the most interesting of any song I know, complex and yet catchy, and, perhaps most accurate of all, simply cool. Other highlights include the metallic "Eat it up Worms Hero," the long groove of "Wireless," and the "Bell Stinks" and "Bell Clinks" duo. And, what the hell, "Dirty Boy" is the best of them all. If you want to know the meaning of awesome, look no further than this song. If you want to know the meaning of intensity, look no further than this song. The relentless, pounding attack that elevates "Dirty Boy" from the opening moments comes to a head as the backup singers (there are two) each hold a single note for two whole minutes (!!) while the band crescendos furiously around them in one of the most heavenly pieces of music ever conceived. I do not lie when I say that "Dirty Boy" is a serious contender for the greatest song ever written.

There are a handful of CDs better than Sing to God. Everything else, however, falls in the face of this stellar CD. Many bands have tried an overwrought double concept album; most have found it's not as easy as it looks. And how easy does it look? Well, Sing to God makes it look like a breeze. It just flows that well. No filler, no weak songs, nothing. Just pure, unending bliss. This is what music is all about.

Report this review (#161376)
Posted Saturday, February 9, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Part pub knees-up, part wickedly complex progressive music, part in-yer-face punk chutzpah, the CARDIACS' 'Sing to God' is unfailingly excellent and in places astonishing.

The supposed inventors and sole members of the genre 'pronk' (prog punk), the CARDIACS sound like you'd expect: a mash-up of brazenness and sophistication. But don't be deceived. Behind the punky singing and out-there music lies a band with a meticulous ear for complexity. Some of the music on this album defies description: 'Eat It Up Worms Hero' is akin to a smash-and-grab raid in which the object stolen is your brain, so bizarre is the sound. 'Angleworm Angel' is a riot. 'Dog Like Sparky' will haunt me for ages, and 'Fiery Gun Hand' is plain creepy. 'Dirty Boy' is so far beyond brilliant it deserves entirely new adjectives. How on earth did they make sounds like that? Can I listen to it again?

This band is clearly sited in the experimental side of modern prog: there are few references to the classic prog sound of the 70s on 'Sing to God'. Instead, this album demonstrates how the SPIRIT of progressiveness can infuse any genre and make it an adventure. It will more than satisfy anyone looking for something different, anyone who wants a new taste to wake up a jaded palette.

I don't think it's quite a masterpiece, however. First, it needn't have been a double CD: with a little trimming of some of the less interesting tracks, this could have been a killer disc. I don't have any objection to extra material, but the quality here is uneven. 'A Horse's Tale' and 'Red Fire Coming Out Of His Gills' aren't really up to it. Second, I miss the cheekiness of their earlier stuff, the blart of Sarah Smith's saxophone, the tossing-off of outrageously complex material without a moment's thought. Here it sometimes seems a little too knowing, a little too clever. And I can't help feeling that with age has come a slight diminution of their incredible energy. Tim's Smith's voice seems to have receded along with his hairline. Nevertheless, I wish more bands were like the CARDIACS.

This is dangerous territory: venture into the CARDIACS' world at your peril. Don't blame me if you become addicted.

Report this review (#176042)
Posted Friday, July 4, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Some time ago I found a shining jewel while through random pieces on main page of progarchives. It's name is 'Fiery Gun Hand' by Cardiacs. My life changed dramatically - that day Cardiacs kicked off it's predecessor from pedestal of 'my personal most stunning music experience ever'.

Do I know words celestial enough to describe feelings that rage/swirl/'sing-to-god' inside of me while listening to this record? I doubt. But I will get to the point - describing the music itself (well, if it is possible at all).

Music is one of it's kind - even though it seems so similar to what we have already heard - it is still so different and new it needs powerful adjectives. Eerie? At least. The band plays like they would like to forget about ways of playing established before them (check 'Fiery Gun Hand' guitar solo!) and develop a new standard. While listener recognises bass, drums, keyboard, guitar sounds he is still confused by how do they sound. He gets an ordered chaos he is not ready for. So he listens to the record again. And again. And again. And then he falls to his knees and sings to God - to express his thanks for a crumb of heaven he got.

Conclusion - you have never listened to music like this before. I encourage you to check if I am right without hesitation.

I find both CD's equally stunning and unearthly. Of course there are weaker moments - but only because there are terrific highlights! Aformentioned 'Fiery Gun Hand', 'Dirty Boy', 'Bell Stinks/Bell Clinks', 'Fairy Mary Mag' - these are peaks of perfection. Outstanding. Those compositions fill me with energy, thrill and will to change the world. And for the beginning I will make more people listen to Cardiacs!

Report this review (#182134)
Posted Wednesday, September 10, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Sing to God - the perfect album by Cardiacs. It is both experimental and melodic, indeed, most their works are but we have the ideal combination here. It's over 80 minutes long , and in my opinion the album comes as close to the definition "modern classic" as they get.

There's the epic tracks such as Dirty Boy and Nurses Whispering Verses (re-recorded classic track from the 80s), the quirky Dog Like Sparky, the punky-yet-complex Fiery Gun Hand, Bell Stinks/Bell Clinks, the insane Eat it Up Worm Hero, Horse's Tail, Angleworm Angel, almost poppy Manhoo, Odd Even and Bellyeye, the sweet No Gold, Infect Hoofs of Lassie and Fairy Mary Mag and the beautiful opening/closing Eden on the Air and Foundling to bookend one of the true masterpieces in modern music. 5 stars easy and a top 10 album of all times for me :)

Report this review (#214870)
Posted Monday, May 11, 2009 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
5 stars How should one even begin to explain this monster known as Sing To God? Well you really don't, just listen to Eden On The Air and the album will work it's own way into your heart and mind from there on!

Originally I was very suspicions to all the positive reviews that this album has received on a number of different websites and I must admit that it took me a few revisits until I actually started to appreciate all this music. But once I did it sort of became an addiction where I basically had to hear it at least once a day over a course of three months time. So now there is no doubt in my mind that this is just a real beast of a composition that transcends both genres and time!

Both of the albums two parts have something great and unique to add to the album so I definitely recommending getting the complete album especially once they finally become available through the official website. Until then almost all are their albums are available on iTunes I would consider it a wasted opportunity if you decided to hold on to your hard earned cash on this rare occasion.

Sing To God is an essential double album for everyone who enjoys creative music with a twist!

***** star songs: Eden On The Air (2:21) Eat It Up Worms Hero (2:33) Dog Like Sparky (4:53) Fiery Gun Hand (5:13) Bellyeye (4:09) A Horse's Tail (3:47) Manhoo (4:59) Bell Stinks (1:19) Bell Clinks (2:54) Angleworm Angel (2:24) No Gold (3:31) Nurses Whispering Verses (9:53)

**** star songs: Insect Hoofs On Lassie (3:00) Fairy Mary Mag (3:44) Wireless (8:22) Dirty Boy (8:54) Billion (0:41) Odd Even (3:18) Flap Off You Beak (3:44) Red Fire Coming Out From His Gills (2:14) Foundling (5:27)

*** star songs: Quiet As A Mouse (1:28)

Total rating: 4,52

Report this review (#254338)
Posted Saturday, December 5, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars I have been a member quite a few years of PA (albeit not the most active one) and I have never reviewed my favourite album of all time. But how do you review an album that is perfect in every sense, a masterpiece through and through? I will not. I will just try to explain what this album does to me.

I remember I lost sight of the Cardiacs after the release of Heaven born and ever bright. A few years later I saw in my favourite record shop in Rotterdam some manic faces grinning at me on a record cover. Cardiacs ~ Sing to God. Hey, that is that band I used to like so much! Of course I bought the CD and put it on the moment I arrived back home.

I simply could not believe what I was hearing. It was all that you could expect from Cardiacs but at the same time nothing you could possibly have expected. All the known Cardiacs elements were there but multiplied a few hundred times to the extreme. Almost every tune is a perfect example of beatleseque tunefulness combined with manic inventiveness.

20 years later my feelings about the album are even stronger. I can not stop myself from singing and clapping along with "dog like sparky" (much to the complete despair of my wife). The punk tornado that is 'Fiery gun hand' leaves me completely exhausted and gasping for breath again and again. The intense onslaught of 'Dirty boy' still brings me in a state of higher consciousness were all I can still do is produce some sort of lunatic grin. And if you see a guy in his late forties jumping around like a maniac through his living room that is probably me, when "bellyeye" is blasting through the speakers.

After almost 20 years and a trillion of plays "sing to god" still leaves me completely amazed.

5 stars of course, but I'd rather give a million.

Report this review (#291173)
Posted Tuesday, July 20, 2010 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars There are very few albums I can listen to more than once or twice per week. Most of the time I end up waiting even two weeks between listens of my favorite albums, both because I enjoy listening to a variety of music and because I don't want the albums to get worn out for me. On occasion, though, I find some here and there which I can listen to nonstop. At first, this album was one I didn't listen to more than once a year, but for whatever reason it's really clicked with me lately and now I've listened to it three times in two days (well, I'm partway through my third listen, but you get the idea). I don't know what exactly it is about this album, but I can't get enough of it. I absolutely LOVE what Tim and crew did on this album. Maybe it's the incredibly diverse mix of styles/elements in their music, maybe it's their energy...most likely it's the indescribable, incredible genius of Tim Smith really displaying itself for all to see. Such true Genius (yes, with a capital G) is a very rare thing in rock music, I think. Very few other people really "do it" on the same level as Tim seems to be able to - for me, he's right up there with Christian Vander and Tatsuya Yoshida in my trinity of most revered musical minds. Anyway, I suppose I should get onto the album at some point in this review...

What exactly is this album like, you might ask...I'd tell you it's like punk, prog, classic rock, modern rock, and about 1000 other things combined (though in my opinion in an entirely different way than the combinations made by Mr. Bungle, Secret Chiefs 3, etc) and wholly unlike anything else. It is, if I may say so, one of those very rare cases of musical perfection. The album can be IN YOUR FACE, it can be subdued, it can be anywhere in between, and it manages to pull of just the right mixture of it all. Some tracks are good beyond words (for example, I agree with Russell about "Dirty Boy", it's one of the most amazing tracks I've ever had the good fortune of listening to), others are "just" amazing. My first exposure to the band was the track "Fiery Gun Hand" which is available to listen to here at PA, and that one hooked me right away - the bizarro atmosphere, the high energy, and the completely astounding guitar solo worked together really well for me. Other tracks (including "Dirty Boy") took many, many listens to truly love, but now I think the album would be sorely lacking if it missed even the shortest of tracks on display here. I guess that to sum up what I'm trying to say here in one sentence, I'd have to say something like "I'm so incredibly in love with this album that I can't even begin to describe it." I don't have much else by the Cardiacs yet, but very soon now (thanks to the current availability on iTunes) I'm going to expand my collection, and most likely I'll end up writing more glowing, completely biased reviews of their albums.

Again, as Russell said - be's very easy to become addicted to this album. I'm assuming most of you can guess (even if you didn't see the rating before reading this) that I consider this a true masterpiece. Five stars isn't enough, but I suppose it'll have to do.

P.S. Be willing to give this album a good amount of listens. It is definitely a grower, and it's well worth the time.

Report this review (#296675)
Posted Sunday, August 29, 2010 | Review Permalink
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team
5 stars Let's just get this out in the open: This is probably one of the best albums of the 90s, one of the best progressive albums, and one of the best albums, ever, period. I saw the reviews here on PA and got the album, and almost cried just from the ambition, originality, creativity, and actual PROGRESSIVENESS that the "Cardiacs" display here. This is no Neo-Prog, which tries to return to the days of the old, but instead "Sing To God" takes the old it pushes it forward at about 400 mph. It might be a bit of a culture shock at first, but the Cardiacs actually manage to combine what many think of as musical arch enemies (though I certainly don't): Punk and Prog (Or "Pronk" as it is called sometimes), and instead of just "dumbing down" the prog with the punk as one might think, it takes punkish elements such as fast drums, power chords, and distorted singing (Provided by the great Tim Smith, who sounds a bit like Johnny Rotten, only in tune), and mixes these elements with some very frantic sounding (Even Zappa sounding) melodies. This results in music that can be very much "In you face" and at the same time be very melodic.

The album itself is not a concept album, but more a collection of songs, written by Tim Smith when the band was on a break. Though the unconeptiness of it all, the album achieves a pretty high level of fluidity. And all the songs are great. Not one would I want off this album, and every song is very close to a masterpiece or higher. The first two opening tracks, "Eden On The Air" and "Eat It Up Worms Hero" are not only amazing tracks, but they show the astounding variety of the band's sound. "Eden" is quite beautiful and very weird (In a good way, of course), and "Eat It..." Is the band at its heaviest, and yet very melodic. It is just unexplainable. Other very good tracks are "Insects Hoofs On Lassie", "Fiery Mary Mag", and "Dirty Boy", just to name a VERY select few.

This is probably one of the most rewarding albums in progressive music. I warn anyone who is a bit startled at first listen: It's scary at first. This is far more different than any progressive music I have ever heard, but it's also much more (literally) progressive than anything made after 1974 (Which was King Crimson's "Red", of course). This album will make you want to stand up and cheer, it will make you go through several epiphanies, and just completely melt off your face.

This is album deserve 6/5, but unfortunately there's no such option on PA (Lame!).

Report this review (#298323)
Posted Friday, September 10, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars 'Sing to God' is a culmination of 15 years hard work and toil.

The Cardiacs are probably best known for their crazy appearance on UK TV show 'The Tube' in '86 - which turned me into a lifelong fan. It was like something straight out of 'One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest'!

This is the Cardiac's undoubted masterpiece. They're clearly off their rockers - but musically they're finely honed and tuned in to one another to the nearest nanosecond. Just as well for them as this must have been absolute murder to record. The tempo shifts are dramatic to say the least.

Tim Smith... acknowledged Gentle Giant fan is the singer songwriter genius responsible for this monstrosity of a double album which at times threatens to collapse under its own weight... but never does because of the skill involved in the musicianship. The highlight must surely be 'Angleworm Angel' which puts knots in my stomach each time I hear it with it's intensity and frantic pace. Towards the end it even seems to turn into a football hooligan chant - with its 'Oi, Oi, Oi' shouts

I saw the Cardiacs in '92 for the princely sum of £2 in Glasgow and to this day it's my favourite gig of all time. It was hysterical to watch and hysterical to listen to, with the bass player Jim taking a fair amount of abuse from brother Tim, simply because he was fat!

'Sing to God' is an incredibly complex and masterfully executed double album without a dull moment. It's also their hardest hitting, most ambitious, fearless and most difficult listen. One of my all time favourite albums. One for a desert island. Hope you're better Tim... I really miss the Cardiacs.

Report this review (#298327)
Posted Friday, September 10, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars I was really perplexed when I first heard this album. I was expecting something different from the album cover, not that a bunch of creepy smiling old dudes can't "rock" this hard, if you could even classify this as rock. It's really beyond anything else I've heard. When the intro song "eden of the air" ended, I was really confused because its almost like Flogging Molly meets Frank Zappa.... I know, impossible right!

What is really phenomenal about this album is that it is like mutated post-punk mixed with the sensibility and technical prowess of a math-rock band, like Don Caballero, only not so post-rock. The rhythms are so hard to keep track of for a band that produced material that sound mostly like punk, but ultimately it would be unfair to call this album or the Cardiacs a punk band.

Sing To God is one of those supremely weird, and engaging albums that it put a smile on my face, but no quite as creepy as the smiles on the front cover of this album. I'm still perplexed at why I like this album so much, because it really doesn't fit in with my musical taste, but it's so bizarre that you can't "look away".

Although it is not a masterpiece of prog rock it is still an incredible album, and one that should be listened to at least once... c'mon ya know you want to.

Report this review (#372925)
Posted Tuesday, January 4, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Sing to God - Cardiacs ==================

Sing to God is a strange album. But then again, Cardiacs are a very strange outfit. Sometimes, madness breeds genius. Sing to God is the perfect example of such a statement.

Sing to God is an album I recommend everyone try. Spanning two discs, this album is filled with absolutely no filler and is arguably Cardiacs' best album. Every track, however strange or quirky it may be, is aurally perfect. Cardiacs can somewhat be described as progressive post-punk, but they are far beyond description. Their influences are a myriad and this is clearly reflected on Sing to God. Heard on this album is everything from ambient, punk, metal, thrash, to odd "circusy" tunes.

Vocal harmonies are prevalent, as are fast synthesizer keys, as well as piano. The guitarring and drumming are both very punk-influenced, being fast and heavy, yet complex. The music, by the way, is VERY complex. Tim Smith is the main composer, guitarist and vocalist and is quite frankly a genius. Saxophone, trumpet and orchestral arrangements are often present and help to create that tight, energetic, quirky, definable sound that can only belong to Cardiacs. How he (Tim) manages to seamlessly blend such an abundance of sounds into compositions is beyond me.

Tim Smith's vocals may take a while to get acquainted with. They are, more often than not, very high-pitched and falsetto. They can also be quite chaotic, yet wholly entertaining. The lyrics are what many would say "indecipherable." They seem to have some sort of religious undertone; a theory Tim Smith denies.

This album is a masterpiece of rock music, progressive or not. A definite 5-star if I've ever heard one.

Standout tracks include: "Fiery Gun Hand" "Bellyeye" "Manhoo" "Wireless" "Dirty Boy" "Nurses Whispering Verses" "Foundling"

PS: This album is very rare and out-of-print. It can be purchased on iTunes, however. Get well soon, Tim!

Report this review (#391945)
Posted Tuesday, February 1, 2011 | Review Permalink
1 stars Normally I would start every one of my reviews by saying something positive about a group's album, but that was not possible for me in "Sing to God".

I don't understand how this stays at #21 on TOP PA albums of all time. Do I think it is better than Larks Tongue in Aspic? no. Do I think it's better than Pawn Hearts? no. I value this Top 100 list because if people are just getting into prog, they need to know what the essence of great prog music is. If they reach the next album on the list, and it's "Sing to God", they are going to distrust the list. At least, that's what I would do albeit I don't know what the listener's music taste is.

I would also like to say, that with all honesty, I am reviewing this album with utmost objectivity, though listening to music comes down to a very personal level, I have nothing against this band, and I respect that they are making this "RIO/Avant-Prog" music.

First of all, the vocals in "Fiery Gun Hand" sounds like it's Alvin and the Chipmunks.

Second, it is impossible for anyone to understand what they are singing about, which I take it as they have nothing to sing about if they mix the audio just well (or bad) enough so that it is incomprehensible.

It is just too noisy, there is no music to it whatsoever. I'm trying hard to understand what there is that people like about it. Every single song on the album has the same type of vocals. It's like they are almost not even taking it seriously.

Maybe just record some cars passing by on the street and then you can start talking about it. I personally would not be able to think, "What do I want to listen to right now?"

!!!"I know!" "Sing to God"!

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Posted Friday, March 25, 2011 | Review Permalink
2 stars Sing to God of Cardiacs album, is so bizarre that ends up being some kind of boring, in particular I think that this album has a high rating that comes from the fact of the impression that cause at first listen. "Sing to God" sound is like a group of teenagers in lsd, singing bombastic hyper-constructed and happy hymns but deep down are nothing more than empty and meaningless ... On the other hand, and to be honest I do not conveyed absolutely nothing, not passing any riff that I came to thrill or some tune well achieved, but nothing else, the relevance of this band would be the contribution made ​​to the music with a new musical concept, the "Prunk" which by the way when i hear this, I imagine a fusion between The Clash and Pink Floyd, but obviously this doesn´t happen, but the disappointment that was relatively equal. I disagree (in my point of view) that "Sing to God " has to be considered an essential album, and that every prog fan should listen, widely assumed this position i refuse to be part of. after listen all the twenty two songs the result was the same that i think after heard only 30 minutes of the album, and i repeat, monotone, monotone, monotone ... Experimental, yes, eclectic, perhaps, but too stuck on some "impressive" sounds.
Report this review (#459394)
Posted Sunday, June 12, 2011 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
5 stars "And now for something completely different.... the Eraserhead of Prog"

"Sing To God" is an album that I had to check out due to the glowing praise it receives here, the album cover appears like a rash all over the forums, those staring eyes and white faces burned their image into my brain. I thought it would be something different. I was right. It is. I can only describe this music as I hear it. And at times it is impossible to describe, so here goes my attempt. I am just going to post my notes as I don't want to spoil my initial reaction with any edits. Hope this makes sense and you can comprehend them. So this is a different review from me, but one that I think is appropriate as the initial reaction to this music is one of astonishment.

1. Eden On The Air (2:21) nice intro to the band, a chiming bell, vocals are unusual, plain weird and surprisingly original. Challenging though to hook onto this at first. Queen harmonies and accented ocker vocals from Tim Smith.

2. Eat It Up Worms Hero (2:33) Hello Frank Zappa! Playing all the wrong notes over a fast tempo and loud noisy vocals. It fades and piano starts up for no reason and ends abruptly. At this point I am thinking either they are geniuses or just sending up the music scene. No, they are geniuses.

3. Dog Like Sparky (4:53) time sig change heaven. The British accents are strong, The Kinks revved up to maximum overload, or maybe it's The Living End with time changes thrown in. Love the way the chorus changes sig and speeds up absurdly. Hard to make out what the song is about but I think it's about a dog like Sparky because ; "we never ever sing like Sparky, crawling is my world (?)." Interpreter please.

4. Fiery Gun Hand (5:13) a fast rollicking quasi-punk song, notable for one of the weirdest manic lead guitar solos by Jon Poole which I read is actually over 40 edits of a guitar solo just collaged together, but its effective and very memorable. A lot of this music sounds like takes montaged together to create those razor sharp time changes and chord progressions. The sound is very random but keeps the ear jarring wonderfully. The keyboard breakdown at the end is also all over the place, but its refreshing to hear such inventiveness on a song. Brilliant.

5. Insect Hoofs On Lassie (3:00) the time sig switches bizarrely from 4/4 to a swing time rag. It is akin to what might be described as circus jazz. The keyboard motif that ascends and descends is effective. The staccato harmonies that blast out sound like Queen. Indescribable music with dramatic tension and the songs don't go for long which is a good thing so we can prepare for the next slice of weirdness.

6. Fairy Mary Mag (3:44) by the time this one strikes up I am already used to Cardiacs, and expect bizarre time changes and loud processed multi tracked singing. This one has a medieval feel in the music and then some splashes of colour especially the of kilter ending. The sweet child's voice is very peculiar but more of that will be nice to balance Tim's abrasive vocals.

7. Bellyeye sounds like the alternative indie bands from the 90s overflow of such bands, were talking Ash, Blur and others similar. Tim is fantastic on vocals here, loud, brash and with straight tough ocker British accent. This one is a lot more straight forward than the hyper strangeness previous. The melody is a lot easier to latch onto and I really liked this one. It soon lapses into some odd meters but feels less patched together for my ears which are already beginning to cope with the interchanging musical shapes and keep up with the vocal gymnastics.

8. A Horse's Tail (3:47) a manic intro and vocals that go up and down the scale following the circus riffs. One part chilled me with some snarling shouts. The weird melody is always changing and sounds like about 6 songs spliced together. I like that though as you never have time to get bored. That's one thing it isn't; boring. Anyone who says that clearly didn't hear it properly. The metal riff at the end is great but fades before you have time to enjoy it. Once again the band are really pushing the envelope with all these time sigs and its original to say the least.

9. Manhoo (4:59) has psychedelic processed vocals and some high pitched munchkin voices which are okay for this type of music that is now reminding me of The Sweet on helium. Weird but that's how it sounds. It even has a 70s feel like bubblegum pop such as 'Poppa Joe' or 'Co- Co' from the glam era. As I write that the time sig changes and become quite serene before it bursts open into a thrashy loud nasty section. Then an orchestra is heard sounding like it is spliced backwards, back to the main theme, and the verses return. So after all these detours it actually goes back to the original song. The Beatles 'I Am The Walrus' style is a strong contender here for how it sounds.

10. Wireless (8:22) is the longest piece on the first part of this oddity. The sigs chop and change ridiculously and I love it, especially that repetitive rhythm figure, it's beginning to lock into my skull. The ending of this track sounds like someone splashing water, a narration about the power of boats on waves, and then a sweeping mellotron cuts through with astounding impact. If you listen to this music and then turn on the commercial radio station, your ears will go into overload just trying to adjust to the straight 4/4 rhythm. The Cardiacs are wildly inventive and splish splash melodies all over the place and it actually becomes a compelling experience. Then I remember looking at the track listing that I have another CD of this stuff to listen to! Bring it on, this is great.

I am now converted by this stage to Cardiacs style, my ears are adjusted to odd time changes, and I want more so eagerly turn up the volume for the next CD to infiltrate my senses.

1. Dirty Boy (8:54) is another lengthy belter. It starts with a slow plodding rhythm, reminding me of Alice Cooper's 'Devil's Food' for some reason, and some excellent guitar riffs. The lead breaks are simple here but effective. Tim's vocals are harmonised together with I don't know how many layers of vocals but it is a solid sound that is generated; a veritable wall of sound. This is noisy and anthemic and gets weirder as it goes, with very high vocals and almost non stop guitar clanging on a ruptured percussion beat. An absolutely addictive classic track. The lengthy 2 minute held note at the end is ear piercing but effective in jarring the senses.

2. Billion (0:41) the shortest thing on the album, which is basically a cathedral keyboard driven with processed vocals. reminds me of The Residents short tracks; a melody, a short verse and an abrupt end.

3. Odd Even (3:18) this has a warbled guitar distortion and Tim's vocals are non stop with some more harmonies. The shimmering music is rather off kilter and even has a medieval guitar solo with random notes, and a finger pop in the cheek to signal it in. What else are they going to throw at us?

4. Bell Stinks (1:19) nice title, the band have a wicked sense of humour, and this is a prime example.

5. Bell Clinks (2:54) nicer title, nutty music that may be punk prog; The Living End put through a blender. This is loud brash and abrasive and crunches with razor time changes. The lead break is even humorous as it is just a scale played over and over.

6. Flap Off You Beak (3:44) a whimsical melody, piano, lots of layered vocals, kerangging guitar clangs, and a low organ drone is what you hear. A side show circus of punked up prog.

7. Quiet As A Mouse (1:28) a short sharp shock of prog comedy. Voices are heard conversing about keeping mice alive, what are they, scientists doing experiments? "This one looks too quiet, quiet little mouse". Then a screaming sound ending with a ding. Hilarious.

8. Angleworm Angel (2:24) well the energy level is turned up to 11 on this fast frenetic hyper speedy thrasher. The guitars scratching metal chunks are great. Tim doesn't let up and sings flat out like a punk on speed. This is uproarious fun after the silence of the previous track. My ears are jelly now and I need a break. What's next?

9. Red Fire Coming Out From His Gills (2:14) a slower beat thankfully and I like Tim's vocals here and the chorus is terrific with that orchestra sound that chimes in. This is another highlight for me. Wow, those drums are incredible. It's over just as I start enjoying the rhythms.

10. No Gold (3:31) a nice falsetto vocal, backwards chiming keyboards, reversed strings, even sounds like variations of the melody of Big Ben's chimes.

11. Nurses Whispering Verses (9:53) is the lengthiest song on the album. Where are the nurses? I love the riff! That is just killer and so technical with all the chaotic time changes. That lengthy esoteric sound at the end generated with keys and effects is eerie, but a great way to end it. The album has not run out of steam and this is one of the greatest Cardiacs songs on offer here. But there's one more song!

12. Foundling (5:27) The last song is nice and long to end on a high note. This is softer, gentler and I can actually hear the lyrics; "I could walk with angels but I'd rather walk with you, the foundling" and "in the life everlasting, here comes the bride but he knows where she came from." Perhaps at the end my ears are fully adjusted now. There's some seriously weird stuff happening here. The melody is fractured with some low drones that have spacey sounds. A creaking door is heard. What, is it over already? This was a great album. The rollercoaster ride is over. Time to play it again.

So at the end of this album my ears are still ringing with odd time changes and noisy brash guitars and Tim's high warbling vocals and it has been a pleasant journey into an original sound. Cardiacs should be commended for their hyper originality if nothing else. Punk meets prog. Is it possible? Their inventiveness is off the map and some of the songs are killer classics. With 2 CDs of strange loud songs it could be hard to accept for many listeners and indeed the band are not going to appeal to one and all, but in a similar way to the nutter alert of Magma, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, The Residents, Frank Zappa or Van der Graaf Generator, once the style hooks into your system you are probably going to revel in the work of the band and listen to nothing else for a while. The album takes some getting used to, especially the time sigs and Tim's vocals, but it is out of the box and delightfully so. It is ferociously original and daring, taking risks that no other band would dare. This RIO (Rock in Opposition) group is exactly that; music that is in opposition to everything else out there. One of a kind and definitely worth a listen, parts are brilliant, parts are confounding but it is always compelling and jam packed with more inventiveness than most bands out there in the alternative scene.

EDIT: I was going to give it 4 stars then listened a few more times...... Scratch that down for another 5 star review. Sorry those who disliked this, it is an incredible original sounding masterpiece and deserves more recognition than it is currently getting. It is addictive and I will never get some of those delirious time sigs out of my system.

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Posted Friday, January 20, 2012 | Review Permalink
Retired Admin
3 stars This is one of those bands you never seem to hear about, but the once or twice you ever hear them mentioned, they're described as the greatest band in the world. They seem to occupy a nonexistent genre that no one else has really pulled off in quite the same way. This is progressive rock, no doubt, but they are not a prog rock band. This is high-energy, fast post-punk music, but it's not really a punk band either. Some writeups refer to them as "pronk". Personally, though, I think it's a mistake to expect too much of the "punk" side of the equation. I know a lot about both prog and punk, and these guys are definitely much closer to the prog side. In fact, I would never have made the punk connection myself, had I not read it somewhere previously.

Their music is actually quite conventional on the surface, meaning it's not avant-garde noise, nor is it too complex for its own good. The pieces are mostly reasonable length, seem melodic enough, but there's something very strange about them. Each song seems to head in several different directions, an approach that sounds random at first but starts to take shape around the third listen, as if you're starting to understand their "language". Tempo shifts, complex keyboard solos, multitracked Queen-like vocals, moments of almost ridiculous intensity (e.g. the last couple minutes of "Dirty Boy" sound like a swelling finale that never ends), all this is is crammed into a dizzyingly overstuffed double CD. It can get exhausting, but if you're willing to just let it wash over you, and don't try to nail it down tightly into a preconceived stylistic mold, it's a very fun, exciting listen.

I've heard one other album by these cats, and it's not nearly as good as this one. This one, from what I've read, gets the most polarized reviews - either love or hate. I can't say yet that I love it or hate it, but it's interesting enough to bring me back for repeated listens. Now, for example, I'm almost getting dizzy listening to "A Horse's Tail". I think this band could benefit from some more objective analysis that doesn't just buy the stock line of "punk prog" hook line and sinker. It's not. If anything, it sounds like a progressive Midnight Oil or something. Weirdly cool.

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Posted Tuesday, May 1, 2012 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
5 stars 'Sing to God' - Cardiacs (10/10)

Listening to Cardiacs, I get the mental image of a deranged gerbil in a hole somewhere composing music. Although at one point he may have been content to write jingles and fine- tuned pop ditties in exchange for sunflower seeds, Cardiacs represents everything past the point where the gerbil loses his grasp on reality and becomes wrapped up in creative fervor. Now unabated by mundane rodent things, the gerbil and his music fall deeper into madness. Although this may not do well to describe Cardiacs' manic mix of punk rock and avant-prog, it should give a good indicator of the feeling "Sing to God" gives me as a listener. It's catchy, experimental, and about as close to the peppy end of a manic depressive episode as I imagine music could aptly depict. Really, it's pop music beyond words or sense, and I can't seem to get enough of it.

Among other things, punk music arose as an opposition to the bombast and overcomplexity of progressive rock. In lieu of this, it's quite the irony to see Cardiacs not only fusing the two styles together, but doing so as if prog and punk were made for each other. "Sing to God" runs the gamut in terms of styles: a sense of symphonic bombast comparable to Yes is mixed with Beatles-esque baroque pop sensibilities and injected with the venom of pub- dwelling punk rock. These sounds- which would often conflict with each other in the 'real' world- are all fused with a viciously tongue-in-cheek attitude pleasantly reminiscent of Frank Zappa. I could also compare the band's overdubbed vocal harmonies to Queen, or the general 'what-the-hell-am-I-listening-to' atmosphere to Mr. Bungle, but Cardiacs ultimately stand on a ground of their own. Did I forget to mention that the band manage to make this experimental chaos as catchy as the plague?

Many of the songs on "Sing to God" rest on a tightrope between order and chaos. Many of the songs enjoy a level of comfort in catchy instrumental hooks and quaint vocal melodies. With the exception of a few tracks (most notably the cinematic-worthy "Dirty Boy", the unsettling soundscape "Quiet as a Mouse" and some of the shorter musical sketches), the majority of "Sing to God" boasts a foundation in good old fashioned songwriting. Vocalist and mastermind Tim Smith has a zany and wildly charismatic voice that would have even fit comfortably into British alternative rock canon, were it not for the extent Cardiacs take their basic elements and contort them. Although some elements are best kept as a surprise for fresh listeners, be sure to expect everything from 'chipmunk vocals' to film score flourishes, classically-influenced pianos, circus music, hyperpunk rhythmic energy and everything in between. Of particular note are the extra-wacky tunes "Dog-Like Sparky", "A Horse's Tale" and "Dirty Boy", a longer piece that gets remarkably profound and damned near celestial by the end of it. Tim Smith's lyrics are a world of their own, and though there's not often the sense that there's an explicit meaning behind the absurdity, they're absolutely fascinating within the context of such a chaotic album. Although- at an hour and a half- the album may be a little long for one comfortable sitting, there is no filler to speak of, although the first half is decidedly better than the latter.

In spite of the zany effects, absurdly surreal lyrics, wall-of-sound production and mile-per- second flow of ideas, Cardiacs remain- at their core- a pop band, and "Sing to God" remains a pop album. In the end, it's the interplay between the hyper-weird and catchy elements therein that makes the album so bloody fascinating. Depending on where your mental state may be at the time of listening, it will either be a trip through the most euphoric hyperparadise dreams could forge, or a reality-distrupting soundtrack to nightmares. Whatever way it may strike, "Sing to God" is pretty unforgettable, and it just may be the greatest experimental rock record I have ever had the strained pleasure of listening to.

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Posted Wednesday, February 27, 2013 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator / In Memoriam
5 stars More Songs About Dogs And God.

My gawd this is a bouncy album.

OK, so I first encountered them and brother Tim many years after this was originally released and frankly it bowled me over. I'm not entirely sure it would have worked for me when it came out in 1995, but then again I was a huge XTC fan and was going hungry for more of the same.

So, it would figure that when I took an interest in Cardiacs the catalog would be out of print. But yeah, I finally got an import of the re-release in 2013 and delighted in how it is wonderfully crazy.

So, this is pronk... I find it actually has very little to do with punk aside from a less than easy to listen to vocal style. There is no disdain for making complex music and interesting lyrics unlike the punk of the 1970's that allegedly destroyed progressive rock or art rock or whatever the hell you called it, if you were listening to it back then. Commercialitis was what brought the golden age of prog to an end.

I had refrained from exploring Cardiacs because my first encounter was a video from an older album that was fairly decently weird but didn't click with me. Finally ordered a copy of this and boy did it click. There was good new stuff out in 2013 but this one, which I got late in that year, really rivaled those.

I think what really makes this album for me is how they use synthesizers, really well. That if nothing else, that really divorces them from being punk.

My favorite songs to god are

Fiery Gun Hand "Sacred patience and a short silence And we will be sure as eggs is eggs that Jesus'll hold his fiery hand to the gun

And together we'll blow him to the ends of the earth To the ends of the earth"


Flap Off You Beak - "All nineteen birds flying fast up They are dead they are not alive Bad bird you flap off you beak High and mighty beady bird eye."

Also I had it in heavy rotation and was doing stair detailing when I head "perseverance understanding climb the stairs and cross the landing" in Horse's Tail.

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Posted Friday, July 4, 2014 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars I must admit i'm a little intimidated doing this review, my first of a CARDIACS album. I really hadn't checked them out until last year mainly because of the descriptions I had read about their music being fast-paced with chipmunk backing vocals and that Punk flavour. None of those three descriptions appealed to me in the least. Well after their music finally became available again about a year ago I decided to give them a chance, and here I am back to report. Run! Do not look back! Haha, just kidding I highly recommend this double album with perhaps the most talked about album cover on the planet. It always gets comments from those who see it for the first time. I should mention that Steven Wilson thinks Tim Smith(CARDIACS leader) is a genius and stated that CARDIACS music is complex especially the way Smith interlocks passages together. Kavus Torabi from KNIFEWORLD who played in the CARDIACS claims "...Tim is a visionary man, every, every, EVERYTHING he wrote is extraordinary". So yeah there are a lot of CARDIAC fans out there who will convince you with passion that there is no greater band. This is melodic yet frantic music with clever lyrics to over simplify it. Tim Smith was a fan of Prog before he started this band in the late seventies. He was a big fan of HENRY COW and saw them in concert back in the seventies. So the music of CARDIACS is Progressive Rock, onlyTim has put his own stamp on it.

Up first on disc one is "Eden On The Air" which is mellow compared to what will follow but I really dig this tune. "Eat It Up Worms Hero" hits the ground running. This is intense and quirky just as you'd expect from this band. "Dog-Like Sparky" opens with piano before Tim comes in with vocals and zany music. You'll notice that some CARDIACS album covers feature dogs on them. I like when the female vocals come in. Great singer that Sarah Smith is. Such an amazing track. "Fiery Gun Hand" kicks into gear fairly quickly with drums leading the way. Vocals join in. Man this is crazy with the lyrics and intensity. Check out the guitar solo 3 1/2 minutes in! As Karvus says, CARDIACS rarely have guitar solos but when they do they are the best. One of CARDIACS greatest tracks for sure. "Insect Hoofs On Lassie" makes me laugh but then the humour in a lot of CARDIACS music does. Brilliant! "Fairy Mary Mag" is just a killer! Love the instrumental intro. Vocals arrive along with what sounds like mellotron. So good. It sounds like Zappa before 3 1/2 minutes. Themes are repeated in this one of my favs. "Bellyeye" is another catchy track with vocals and it's funny. "A Horse's Tail" is another uptempo song with some insanity, okay lots of insanity. "Manhoo" is pretty good but it hasn't actually won me over yet despite the many who love it. "Wireless" ends disc one and it's 8 1/2 minutes long. Man this sounds so amazing, it's just different in that you really need to hear it. Sarah sings on this one too along with Tim. The second part of this track called "Perl On The Sea" comes in before 5 minutes as we get the same melody but spoken words come in. This is really cool, especially when the spoken words stop and we get this atmosphere in the form of orchestration to end it.

Disc two begins with "Dirty Boy" without question my favourite track on here and I can't believe it goes on for almost 9 minutes. I can't see another CARDIAC's track doing for me what this song does. The guitar, the passionate vocals, the lyrics. I'm in awe of this track and will stop here before I just gush all over the place. "Billion" is a short(less than a minute) piece with reserved vocals and a cool soundscape. "Odd Even" is fantastic, very catchy. So many great tracks on this recording. "Bell Stinks" is a short and intense instrumental until it becomes dreamy then it kicks back in. "Bell Clinks" is the fastest paced tune on here. Even the vocals are going a million miles per hour. "Flap Off You Beak" opens with piano before the whole band joins in. It settles some when the vocals arrive. "Quiet As A Mouse" is short with samples of a conversation between two people then strange sounds when they stop. "Angelworm Angel" is fast-paced with vocals and it rivals "Bell Clinks" with it's break-neck speed. "Red Fire Coming Out From His Gills" is interesting with the tempo changes and lyrics. "No Gold" is also different with the softer vocals and more laid back sound. "Nurses Whispering Verses" is a top three song for me. It kicks in before a minute and then proceeds to kick some major ass. Man what a song! The final tune "Foundling" really intrigues me for some reason. It's partly the words and partly the more laid back vocals as the sound pulsates slowly when he's not singing.

Man what a recording this is. This was released back in 1996 after the band was well established. As double albums go there are some tracks I could do without yet the highs are addictive to say the least. Still I can't give this anything more than 4 solid stars, that may change down the road.

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Posted Saturday, August 30, 2014 | Review Permalink
5 stars A brilliantly amazing and amazingly brilliant album, I have no other words for it.

Genesis, Queen, Madness, The Stranglers, Captain Beefheart, Amon Düül II and who knows who else were mercilessly pushed into a nuclear powered blender, then cryogenically submerged in and shiveringly topped with cardiacssauce and this is what came out; a roller coaster of randomly changing time signatures frantically making love to pastoral sounding dissonants descending from heaven without any detour.

Sung to God and those who listen carefully can hear him sing along. I do, even through my own tears of utter joy and enlightenment.

If it'd wake the deceased from the dead I would not be surprised, but for sure it will melt any bad mood like an ice cube in a cup of hot boiling tea on a tropical beach on a volcanic Island in a heat wave.

And then these last two minutes of Dirty Boy, oh boy, it will make the most austere and rigorous atheist fall on his knees singing his heart out in repentance.

Report this review (#1288201)
Posted Sunday, October 5, 2014 | Review Permalink
5 stars A few months ago, I discovered Cardiacs with this album. I fell in love immediatly Cardiacs are one of the most s spectacular program rock bands out there and this album proves it. I first listened with average expectations but was blown away by the creative yet complex music of Tim Smith. I had been looking for something really unique in prog and finally found it. Every song from Sing to God has it's own amazing creativity to make a perfect album.

Eden on the Air begins with random chimes and an atmospheric oceanic fade in. It is a swan song with high vocals thrown in the middle. I love how symphonic it is but so weird at the same time.

After the basic two minuets of Eden, things pick up speed with the advent grade Eat it Up Worms Hero. The song is messed up with random screams and hidden melodies. There is a lot happening and at the very end, after the fade out, we get some nice piano interrupted by a bang.

When I first heard this album, I was prepared for Eat It Up but not Dog-Like Sparky. The song has a sort of perpetual beat to it and picks up speed for the melody. The lyrics make no sense, but they don't matter. The melodIes just get better and better! I especially when the sing "Crawling is my Way." It's so strange because it has to be prog, but it just is so much more!

Now we get the quintessential prog-punk hybrid, Fiery Gun Hand. This one has normal punk like singing with random sounds that I could understand if most people would find annoying as help-I love it! In a few moments, it also becomes really symphonic and it even has a guitar solo and a keyboard solo. It has everything!

Things "kind of" calm down in Insect Hoots on Lassie-good title. I feel like this kills brain cells it's so advent grade and weird. The saxophone melody is awesome and son is the acoustic guitar. Another great one!

If the album had any weak tracks, the weakest link is Fairy Mary Mag-and even this is great! After the crazy intro, it becomes very medieval with a little girl singing after Smith. The ending is a random keyboard solo.

Now we get back into punk with Bellyeye. Such a good track. Some of it even sounds kind of polka-ish, Tim Smith is a genius!

Things get weird in A Horse's Tail. This song has so much fit into four minutes it feels like an epic! In the middle, you can hear more screaming and everything sounds like a demon circus. This is a personal favorite off the record.

Then we get what I think will end up being one of my all time favorite songs. Manhoo. The song sounds like possessive children singing with Tim Smith about spirits. Seems like a weird ghostly song turned into a rock song. I can't really describe how much I love it, just listen to it!

The first disk ends with Wireless. This one seems like a technological one for the 90s. It has an awesome repetitive keyboard riff that makes it feel very retro. As this moody plays off, it eventually ends and we are left with a tiny snapping beat over the sound of crickets. Tim Smith narrates some weird lyrics about buckets, eventually, the snapping stops. The first part ends with a beautiful orchestral overture.

Then it comes. The most messed up song ever. Dirty Boy. You want to turn it up but it hurts your ears. It sort of is like a hardcore version of The Beatles "I Want You". It takes many listens, like all the greats, but my favorite parts are...basically all of it. The buiild up in the middle is an eargasm. But the most notable section is the last two minutes. One note is held and is so loud but the guitar underneath is unbelievable!!!!

Billion is a short opener to Odd Even. Pretty cool.

Odd Even is probably the most accessible song off this weird album. It is dominated by acoustic guitar, strange feedback, and strings. It's a very sweet track, and in the middle is the same keyboard so at the end of Fairy Mary Mag. I feel it is heartfelt, and sort of a love song.

Bell Stinks is the instrumental prelude to Bell Clinks. It has a sort of crazy beat and a randomly beautiful and spacious middle. Pretty funny song!

Bell Clinks is really fast paced! You cannot understand a word. I read the lyrics and I think its about social rights or something. I don't know why, but it makes me think of Ballroom Blitz. Oh, and it has an awesome guitar solo!

Flap Off You Beak is not as weird but it's even better! First of all, look at the title-hilarious! I don't know if it's accessible or not, but it's got good vocals, good piano, and overall is one of my favorites.

Quiet as a Mouse is not a song but a really creepy bit about scientists experimenting on mice. Reminds me of the play I am currently in "Flowers for Algernon." One women is very creepy in this bit, some scary stuff here.

I have never done drugs, but if I do,I think it would feel not like listening to this next song, Angelworm Angel. The percussion is insane and super weird. This is just too much to take in!!!

Then we settle down with Red Fire Coming Out of His Gills. I like this strings, and the overall composition is a good one.

No Gold is probably the trippiest song off the album. It uses weird fade in piano, and this beats are followed by some even stranger percussion. The vocals also have a sound effect, as do the strings in the back. Weird song, but still great.

The album's climax is Nurses Whispering Verses. Pretty frightening song. It is dominated by an epic riff that fits it perfectly. Although the riff is kind of the only good part, the song also has a small build up and an ambient ending. The song fits best when with the whole album, but is a great climax!

Finally, Tim Smith treats us to an outstanding love song for the finale. Fondling brings a tear to my eye. After verses comes an overpowering synth riff each time. I can't really describe it because while I'm listening I have too many goose bumps to type it right now. If you listen closely, you'll hear chimes at the end, like the start.

Buy this album now. You will not regret it.

Report this review (#1651743)
Posted Saturday, December 3, 2016 | Review Permalink
siLLy puPPy
PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
5 stars Considered the pinnacle of the Mark II phase, SING TO GOD was the fourth studio album from the CARDIACS which came out in 1996, four years after the previous album "Heaven Born And Ever Bright." Having landed on his feet as the leader of a trimmed down four-piece band, Tim Smith shifted the band's eclectic keyboard drenched sound to a heavier progressive punk = pronk style which focused on the more aggressive twin guitar attacks accompanied by those indefatigable time signature workouts with beyond bizarre jazz-tinged chord changes. SING TO GOD took everything the CARDIACS had done up to this point and threw it all in a steaming hot cauldron and turned up the heat even more.

After losing the four key members that resulted in the band's first album as a quartet on the last album, drummer Dominic Luckman followed suit and left the band after "Heaven Born And Ever Bright" and was replaced by Bob "Babba" Leith thus completing what is called the second classic lineup which would only release this classic album SING TO GOD and the following final CARDIACS album "Guns." Guitarist / keyboardist John Poole took on a greater role in the songwriting department and within the course of the three years between albums the band accumulated a huge reservoir of material which resulted in a double album of 22 tracks that collectively add up to almost 89 minutes of spastic progressive art punk infused with new elements of psychedelia and catchy pop hooks. Other members also contributed more liberally to the creative process thus making SING TO GOD the most diverse sounding CARDIACS albums of their canon.

Although technically a quartet SING TO GOD still benefited from myriad guest musicians including vocals and saxophones by former member Sarah Smith, violins, trumpets, a string quartet, orchestral arrangements and even a musical appearance from a pair of scissors! While clearly an unmistakable CARDIACS album, SING TO GOD sounds like the band was phasing in and out of reality thus providing the soundtrack for another dimension or state of consciousness. Fortified with the usual crafty pop hooks infused with punk rock guitar heft, CARDIACS went for the angularity jugular on this double dipping of musical surreality. The first noticeable thing about SING TO GOD is the return to a more diverse palette of instrumentation with more keyboard parts courtesy of Jon Poole and a greater expansiveness of dynamics with tracks shifting from slow crawlers to bombastic punk fury without notice.

"Eden On The Air" starts the show with an introduction to the more atmospheric side of the band with those contorted rhythms, twisted time signatures and everything-in-opposition approach to songwriting without sacrificing the buttressing pop infused hooks that keep it all rather accessible. The following "Eat It Up Worms Hero" explodes into punk guitar fury but also goes for the brutal prog jugular with sudden stylistic shifts, flirtations with near metal music orotundity and an almost religious devotion to mondo-bizarro on the altar of unorthodoxy. While the main emphasis of SING TO GOD is much like "Heaven Born And Ever Bright" with the monstrous guitar riffs and theatrical vocals all fluttering around in frenetic zolo art punk style, the more psychedelic and orchestral elements that were added gave SING TO GOD a much more epic feel as opposed to previous CARDIACS releases.

SING TO GOD also showcased a new infatuation with production as that intangible extra instrument to take the music into even stranger worlds. Along with the punk fury barraging at quickened tempos, CARDIACS employed krautrock techniques more famously associated with the early 70s from bands like Faust, Neu!, Can and other German classics which adds a somewhat smoothing out of the incessant barrage of high octane derangement of the punk fueled avant-prog escapade resulting in one highbrow autistic episodic outburst after another. The addition of orchestral arrangements and the string quartet that serves as background supplementation only adds to this.

SING TO GOD was a slow burner for me having always preferred the classic Mark I lineup but after these 90s albums started to get under my skin i was a convert and now find all phases of the CARDIACS music to be equally ingenious thanks of course to the mastermind prodigy Tim Smith whose beyond eccentric idiosyncrasies required decades of the general public to catch up with to be able to handle such a barrage of creative genius. What's amazing about SING TO GOD is the diversity of tracks and an utterly brilliant attention to detail beginning with well-crafted melodic developments for all of the bells and whistles to wrap around. Sure it may require a number of spins to wrap your head around this menagerie of psychotic lunacy but once you adjust your antennae to receive the proper signals, this one will blow your mind even after you've heard it a number of times! Tim Smith has stated that the title SING TO GOD referred to an imaginary child's hymn book and if such a soundtrack existed in some twisted reality this would surely be it.

Report this review (#2487015)
Posted Tuesday, December 22, 2020 | Review Permalink
5 stars C'mon, this is an absolute masterpiece! Totally caught me off guard. It's unique, inventive, creative and highly original. I can't name any other albums that sound like this one. It's seriously godly.

Musicality is top notch and each musician highly contributed to this project, the flow between tracks is absolutely phenomenal and each tracks feels so different to each other yet not too random either: You will never get bored!

Very inaccessible, that's true, but once you get into it you will fall in love with it. Easily one of the best Avant Prog albums of all time, and it deserves more recognition than the one it gets. Five stars!

Report this review (#2508729)
Posted Wednesday, February 24, 2021 | Review Permalink
5 stars - Review #15 -

I actually refuse to believe this album was made by humans. The sheer genius, creativity, imagination, originality and musicality present in those two CDs is truly incomparable. I'm going to say once and for all that this might even be the greatest Avant-Garde album ever made, and I'm not stuttering.

It's clear that this album is incredibly inaccesible. There's songs of all lengths in it, with many different purposes going from small and bizarre interludes to atmospheric and trance-inducing tracks, along with high-paced progressive metal sections and Frank Zappa impersonations that are anything but boring. The album features such unimaginable amount of surprises that it would take me hours to count them all, I just got to tell you that it will be a power trip to Tim Smith's musical insanity.

His capability of composing so many different tracks that somehow fit together in a delightful way when doing full listens is top- notch, just like his manic lyrics that have a practically un-decipherable meaning, who knows if maybe they don't even have a meaning at all. But not only Tim Smith, but the rest of the musicians (one of them being Jon Poole, who's pretty known in this site and in prog with Lifesigns) delivered so many great moments throughout the album.

If I had to pick my top five (picking a favorite is pretty much impossible for me) tracks from this album, they would be:

-Eat It Up Worms Hero: Pure Zappa! Along with some Radiohead styled guitars.

-Fiery Gun Hand: A Sex Pistols inspired track with a T.V. ad interlude that features serious prog-metal influences.

-Manhoo: A happy-sounding song that features one of my favorite choruses ever, it's bizarre and confusing, but provocative and catchy.

-Dirty Boy: A pretty much structureless nine-minute track that features un-predictable melodies and a trance-inducing atmosphere.

-Nurses Whispering Verses: A ten minute (although I would personally say six minute track, since the rest is atmosphere) track with a main keyboard riff that reminds me a lot of Porcupine Tree (Deadwing to be specific). I love that keyboard line so much, and the chorus is great.

An absolute masterpiece, I got no doubt in my mind about it. Five Stars. Go listen this album now!

Report this review (#2542102)
Posted Tuesday, May 11, 2021 | Review Permalink
5 stars How does this not have a 4.40 score in this site, it beats almost everything you have heard and will hear in your life. Sing To God, being a double CD, is the fifth proper studio album by Cardiacs, an avant-garde band that pushed the limits further in a genre that was already pushing the limits.

Featuring 22 tracks, you can expect various lengths and approaches to avant-garde/prog-metal in here. Most of the album features fast-paced and upbeat tracks along with some other shorter tracks meant to work as transitions. My favorite tracks are Eat It Up Worms Hero, Manhoo, Bellyeye, Dirty Boy, Angleworm Angel and the groovy closer Nurses Whispering Verses.

Absolutely recommend, whether you like Avant-Garde or not. Five Stars without a doubt.

Report this review (#2577697)
Posted Friday, July 9, 2021 | Review Permalink
5 stars Obviously a masterpiece. After many years it's still my favorite avant-garde album of all time. It has twenty two tracks that flow very well, they're split into two CDs. This record sounds like a combination of the heavy metal aspects of Dream Theater and the raw avant-garde of Frank Zappa. Tim Smith provides an iconic performance and the other musicians did some very tight playing. Some favorites are Fiery Gun Hand, Angleworm Angel, Manhoo, Bellyeye and Nurses Whispering Verses.

Recommended not only to Avant-Garde fans, but prog fans in general. A masterpiece of its genre and yet another proof that Tim Smith was a genius.

Report this review (#2583053)
Posted Monday, August 2, 2021 | Review Permalink
4 stars Was really looking forward to listening to this, especially after hearing A Little Man and a House and the Whole World Window & Songs for Ships and Irons, but it didn't quite live up to my expectations.

A large part of that may be due to the line-up changes. This is really not bad music, I'm still giving it 4 stars, but for me this does not compare to the completeness and clearer sound of their second album. I'm always very reluctant to listen to double albums, because I find there's either too much filler material, or it's the other extreme with no room to breathe and take a step back. I think for this album it's the latter. I'm sure that if I heard these songs in isolation I'd think they were great, but in the context of this huge album it's all a bit too much.

Perhaps in a few months time when I'm used to this album I'll change my mind and it'll grow on me. But for now, 4 generous stars.

Report this review (#2602266)
Posted Thursday, October 14, 2021 | Review Permalink
5 stars Duke Ellington said that there are two types of music- good music and the other kind. I concur but for myself would go even further and say there are two types of music-music I like and music I don't like. I really like Cardiacs. Why? Their music is incredibly well crafted, extremely melodic, sometimes exhilarating, sometimes a bit silly (humour does belong in music as Frank Zappa would suggest) sometimes quite moving, challenging in the best possible way and most importantly just plain fun. Sing To God is effectively a summation of their music going back at least to their debut A Little Man but cranks things up a notch which is no doubt why many fans rate this as their best album. Even so the album actually starts with the gentle if slightly weird "Eden In The Air". Then they are off-Track 2 "Eat It Up Worm's Hero" is where the shear lunacy begins. Its mash up of styles sudden stops and starts and what for all intents sounds like a bit of Gregorian chants all in the first minute is surely one of those "Marmite" songs which will either leave you grinning with delight or leave you screaming from the room or huddling in the corner a gibbering wreck clutching your precious "Close To The Edge" LP close to your chest for comfort. Yes my friends- welcome to the wonderful world of Cardiacs. Most of the songs are actually quite short and some are even quite poppy such as "Bellyeye" and "Dog Like Sparky" (which for some reason reminds me of Kate Bush mainly because of the female vocals) but with enough twists and turns to get your teeth into."Manhoo" actually remind me a lot of XTC for some reason and is such a joyful and playful track.Then there is the short but exhilerating instrumental "Bellstinks" which recalls Frank Zappa circa his Uncle Meat period. I particularly love the medieval flavoured "Fairy Mary Mag" with its heavenly mellotron choir and some beautifully detailed instrumentation especially at the end which really could have been Uncle Frank .Particularly affecting is the final track on the first album "Wireless" about a girl on her deathbed. The scissors snips in the background are presumably representing the mortal coil being cut off so she can move on and when the snipping finally does end she is lifted off to heaven accompanied by exquisite keyboard instrumental section, This song is so beautiful and deeply moving. The track which gets the most attention is of course the monumental "Dirty Boy". This song about a messianic figure just sounds HUGE -it just builds and builds with massive chords and continually shifting key signature moving ever higher until the song shifts gear at the five minute mark-well my hair just stands in edge. Genius

A Modern Prog Rock masterpiece

Report this review (#2782740)
Posted Monday, August 8, 2022 | Review Permalink

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