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OF NATURAL HISTORY

Sleepytime Gorilla Museum

RIO/Avant-Prog


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Sleepytime Gorilla Museum Of Natural History album cover
4.13 | 193 ratings | 43 reviews | 42% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection


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Studio Album, released in 2004

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. A Hymn to the Morning Star (5:40)
2. The Donkey-Headed Adversary of Humanity Opens the Discussion (6:01)
3. Phthisis (3:44)
4. Bring Back the Apocalypse (4:10)
5. FC: The Freedom Club (10:48)
6. Gunday's Child (6:56)
7. The 17-Year Cicada (3:41)
8. The Creature (6:00)
9. What Shall We Do Without Us? (2:38)
10. Babydoctor (13:59)
11. Cockroach (2:12)
12. Bonus-/Hiddentrack (5:56)

Total Time: 71:45

Lyrics

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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians

- Nils Frykdahl / guitars, flute, voice
Matthias Bossi / drums, glockenspiel, xylophone, voice
- Dan Rathbun / bass, log, roach, trombone, lute, voice
- Moe! Staiano / metal, wood, bowed spatula, glockenspiel, spring, paper
- Carla Kihlstedt / violins, percussion guitar, autoharp, organ, voice
- Frank Grau / drums, melodica

Releases information

Mimikry Records

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
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SLEEPYTIME GORILLA MUSEUM Of Natural History ratings distribution


4.13
(193 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(42%)
42%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(29%)
29%
Good, but non-essential (16%)
16%
Collectors/fans only (9%)
9%
Poor. Only for completionists (5%)
5%

SLEEPYTIME GORILLA MUSEUM Of Natural History reviews


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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by hdfisch
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars This album is actually almost impossible to describe, one has to listen to it, and not only once or twice to discover its beauty and uniqueness. It's really an incredible experience and revelation listening to it. Probably one should take the lyrics not too seriously, these guys really love to mock about everything with their nice funny humour. One has just to read the "common questions" on the front cover. Or is there anybody reasonable who can take such questions seriously? Anyway they are great, the mixture of BJORK-ish vocals and SEPULTURA-alike metal together with avantgarde music is just awesome and unique. This record is in fact a 200 percent improvement to their debut, that I find absolutely unbearable, just a big mess of noise IMHO. But here with their second output they created already their masterpiece. At some moments it's a bit hard to support and slightly nerve-killing, like the longest track "Baby-Doctor", which is certainly not the best one of the album I'd like to say, but the rest is more or less quite enjoyable and for sure very unique and outstanding. I think we still can expect great things to come from this band. This album is for sure the most unique and innovative release of the year 2004 in any category of music. That's why it deserves the five stars rating!! Everybody looking for some music that is not common and ordinary should run for this one immediately!!!

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Send comments to hdfisch (BETA) | Report this review (#34206) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, March 20, 2005

Review by el böthy
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars First of all...what´s with all the Metal talk about this album? Yes, there are some Metal moments, but not enought for be taken as an Avant garde metal band... well, at least I don´t think so.

Well, but let´s get down to busines, this album is NOT for everyone. If you are a fan of beauty in music, stay as far away from this as you can. If you are openen minded...well, come right in. There is just so much in this album, to go into detail would take a whole book or so, so I´ll try to keep it simple. Well...the music... is like...mmm well, Avant garde with rabies would be a good discription, and yet I am no where near of what Sleepytime Gorilla Museum really is, this is very original music, that´s for sure. The songs sometimes aren´t really songs, but collages of sounds, rythm paterns and maybe a voice speaking, or singing in a narrative way... and other times a track is just full of complexity, melodys, soft and growling vocals, violent drumming and percussion, homemade instruments, Bjök like singing and violin solos... and you know what? They get away with it...and man do they get away with it! You can sence that all musicians are real artist, not just people playing their instruments...this is art. Actually, I think the best discription of STGM would be...Ga Ga music! So, yes, this is serious stuff... yet at times it all seems like a big joke, specially when it comes to some of the contend of the songs, which are pretty metaphoric, or alegoric should I say? A good example of this is the track "The Creature" (one of my favorites) where you have a voice telling you the story of a creature that takes advantage from a village, eating all of their food and sucking the life out of the people in exchange for protection of something...that of course never comes. Let me tell you that the lyrics here are as grotesque and down right disgusting as they come (" They learned to dinne on fecal matter, so that the creature would grow fatter")... and yet, they are brilliant. The whole album is just like that, brilliant. From time to time you forget you are listening to an album, and think this is some kind of bizarre play or creazy dream... or nightmare.

As I said before, there are homemade instruments in this album, so you get to hear some really interesting sounds that you might have never heard before... actually, I dont think you have ever heard something like Sleepytime before for that matter.

The stand out songs here are the opener "A Hymn to the Morning Star", with Nils Frykdah welcoming you to this ...thing! in a very teatrical voice, "The Donkey-Headed Adversary of Humanity Opens the Discussion" a brutal song that goes into your brain like a chainsaw, "Phthisis" with Carla Kihlstedt singing very similar to Björk, "FC: The Freedom Club", this might be the best representative of the whole album, a great song, and "The Creature", which I have already named and discrived before.

This is not some album, this is...this is something else. Excellent, but not for eveyone, yet I can´t not give this album anything but 5 stars, as this is not just outstandingly original, but succesfully good thrue out it too, a winning combination if you ask me.

A word of advice...I would not listen to this at night and alone... yet, in a sence, this might be the best way to listen to it...hmmm... might want to try it

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Send comments to el böthy (BETA) | Report this review (#112880) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Review by thellama73
COLLABORATOR Eclectic Prog Team
5 stars From the first few second of strange and disturbing sound coming from my speakers when I plopped this album in my stereo, I knew I had come across something wonderful.

"Of Natural History" was my first taste of Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, and ever since I have seen them perform live at every opportunity. There are very few records that truly deserve the tagline "like nothing you've ever heard before," but this is surely one of them. Oh sure, there's some Art Bears and Mr. Bungle in there, but the overall effect is totally unique.

The album opens with Nils Frykdahl's impressive baritone intoning "A Hymn to the Morning Star," interspersed by choruses of creepy falsettos. The tracks immediately gives the album an air of foreboding, which is paid off handsomely in the stunning "The Donkey Headed Adversary of Humanity Opens the Discussion," a furious avant-metal piece in (mostly) 5/4. In fact, the bands inability to stay in one time signature is heard throughout the album, and provides a restless and surreal forward motion.

The other shining star besides Nils is Carla Khilstedt, an incredible singer and violinist. Her chief composition and showcase of her talents is "Phthisis," a powerful number with a steadily rising melody that you think wlll never top out.

The other highlights on the album are too numerous to list, but I would be remiss if I didn't mention the hilarious capper "Cockroach." It must be heard to be believed, and shows that the band does in fact have a sense of humor. "Of Natural History" has quickly become one of my favorite albums by ANY band, and it is a huge improvement upon their debut.

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Posted Monday, June 04, 2007

Review by Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars This album has been hard to ignore with all the talk it has generated since it's release in 2004. Many have said that it is impossible to describe the music on "Of Natural History" and that you really need to experience it by listening to it. Let me tell you about my experience.

"A Hymn To The Morning Star" opens with a minute and a half of not much really. There is the sound of snoring a pump organ and a dog growling before these deep vocals enter the scene. These are contrasted with some other vocals as violin comes in later. "The Donkey-Headed Adversary Of Humanity Opens The Discussion" features angry and aggressive vocals and a soundscape to match. I think the hair on my neck stood straight up the first time I heard him say "I am the adversary" early in the song. "Phthisis" is a great tune with female vocals and heavy drums as male vocals yell in the background. "Bring Back The Apocalypse" has various sounds to open before we get percussion and a vocal melody. A sample of someone speaking ends the song. "FC:The Freedom Club" opens with xylophone and vocals before the song kicks in instrumentally and vocally. Nice. The vocals become angry until we get back to original melody 7 minutes in. What a contrast !

"Gundry's Child" opens with nature sounds as haunting female vocals come in. The song explodes before 2 minutes. It settles back down before breaking out once again in a powerful way. "The 17-Year Cicada" has various sounds that come and go as a melody is kept alive with percussion. "The Creature" is loud ! Reserved vocals arrive. What a great sound 3 1/2 minutes in of guitar and drums. It comes back to end the song. "What Shall We Do Without Us ?" opens with a sample of a conversation as female vocals and percussion come in followed by chaos. "Babydoctor" opens with another sample of a conversation. Male vocals with drums followed by violin and with it stronger vocals. The song becomes almost pastoral until 7 1/2 minutes in when vocals get angy and the sound becomes heavy. It ends with an atmospheric climate. "Cockroach" opens with yet another sample of a conversation. The vocals are deep like on the opening track. The " Bonus / Hiddentrack" has another conversation between people out in the woods as you can hear nature. It ends as it began with snoring and dog sounds.

Well everybody was right you do need to experience this record by listening to it again and again.They do a great job with the way they contrast the light and heavy. There is quite a bit of sampling and I really like the female and male vocals. And above all I like the heaviness that is on this record. For me this is a four star record right now. It is a unique album that I think everyone should listen to at some point in their lives.

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Send comments to Mellotron Storm (BETA) | Report this review (#129342) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, July 20, 2007

Review by 1800iareyay
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Sleepytime Gorilla Museum's debut was a shaky affair, but they really pulled things together with their sophomoric release, Of Natural History. SGM display all of their talents: good lyrics, excellent RIO composition, and custom made instruments that set them apart from everyone. The sheer complexity of this album gives Mr. Bungle and John Zorn a run for their money, and occasionally they surpass even those titans of metal in opposition. The album is conceptual and deals with mankind's ruination of the planet. Unlike most concept album, this doesn't follow a specific story (though there are several stories in the album). Rather, it present the theory of De-Evolution, created by a member of the original Sleepytime Gorilla Museum.

The album opens with two songs that are interlinked as sort of a story. A Hymn to the Morning Star, which sets up the story as they reveal the true enemy of mankind is not Satan, but the Adversary, and that Christianity, Satanism, and any other religion are too dogmatic and false. The Adversary is SGM's version of Mother Nature, as it represents every plant and creature in the world. The music fits the title, sounding like a perverse church hymn with nice vocals from Nils that get interrupted by some sinister vocals. The Donkey-Headed Adversary of Humanity Opens the Discussion continues the lyrical thread by letting the Adversary detail how he will destroy the humans who have raped the planet of its beauty. This is a masterful song that blends RIO, metal, jazz, avant-garde, and some stuff nobody has ever or will ever assign a classification to.

Now, the album focuses on the Futurists, a group who favored quick progress regardless of the costs. Phthisis is supremely heavy tune that lets Carla take over the vocals while Nils growls underneath. The spoken segments reveal the Futurist ethos, and the lyrics have an amusing attack on the Futurist philosophy, noting that the future will one day become the past, thus making everything they've attained irrelevant in the face of new change. This seems to sum up the rapid expansion of man in terms of invention and ideas, if you look at how fast we've gone from cars to rockets. Bring Back the Apocalypse is one of my favorite tunes off the album with it's great opening bass riff, and this is where the custom instruments really enter. This song probably has the weakest lyrics (essentially chanting the title of the song), but they are delivered in such a way that makes me think the whole thing is intentional rather than poorly written. Musically, it's one of the strongest tracks.

We now turn our attention to the Unabomber, whose philosophy on the dangers of technology seems to impress SGM. He is the polar opposite of the Futurists, as he wishes to return to a time without technology. FC: The Freedom Club is an avant- garde epic that has gives us spoken segments that relate some of the Unabomber's warnings against such terrors as nuclear war. The best spoken segment on the album is when the Unabomber says "the human race with technology is like an alcoholic with a barrel of wine." Sends chills down my spine every time! The song opens softly with xylophone and the Unabomber's warnings before it becomes frantic and aggressive, almost like a Mr. Bungle or Zorn tune, yet it sounds totally original.

SGM moves things along by focusing specifically on the De-Evolution theory that the album revolves around. Gunday's Child is a downright brilliant anti-war song that focuses on a series of infants born at different times as war draws ever closer. When it hits, the baby born that day will incinerated. There is a haunting lullaby in the middle that brings the Adversary back into the mix as it details the Adversary attacking a little girl. The music builds perfectly from eerie to violent and frantic to match the coming of war. The 17-Year Cicada is a killer instrumental with tribal drums and a downright scary vibe. Don't listen to this song in the dark.

The Creature takes us back to Adversary, who has now assumed total control and is using our dependence on technology to cripple us. It has an amusing spoken part at the end featuring some Southern men. What Shall We Do Without Us? presents the band's view of heaven and it features some dazzling music, especially from the violin. Babydoctor builds ever, ever so slowly until it explodes into he second half. All in all it reminds me a lot of John Zorn. The lyrics deal with individuals who have proven that even amongst the filth of humanity, there are some diamonds in the rough. The album properly ends with Cockroach, a song that is steeped in irony. A human mocks a cockroach for being inferior, yet all the flaws he lists are mirrored in humanity (i.e. trashing a once-green "lawn" is clearly a metaphor for environmental destruction). It's incredibly funny to me since I love irony and satire. The Untitled Track officially ends the album with spoken segments. It all ends with the Adversary warning us to remember what you've heard.

For a more complete summary of the concept of the album, go to progressiveears.com to read Baribrotzer's review, which has been invaluable in the creation of mine, as he managed to decipher this album's cryptic message. SGM prove themselves masters of RIO, metal in opposition, rock against rock (the genre they invented) or whatever tag is thrown their way. Of Natural History takes its place beside Mr. Bungle's Disco Volante as a classic of modern avant-prog. The music is incredibly difficult to describe; think of Zorn's most avant moments, and you'll come close to SGM. No fan of RIO should be without this seminal release.

Grade: A

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Send comments to 1800iareyay (BETA) | Report this review (#131229) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Review by Flucktrot
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Similar to other reviewers, my opinion is that nothing I have ever heard compares to this; however, that's not necessarily a good thing. I view this album from two competeting perspectives: the theme/lyrics, and the actual music. One I enjoy, the other I don't.

Here is my experience with this album: Based on reviews, I knew to expect the unexpected. I read the liner notes and cover, and these are some of the most interesting I have ever encountered. SGM basically present a parallel, reverse evolutiong theory that puts humanity in some bleak comparisons with the lesser creatures. Absolutely fascinating, with great pictures and captions as well.

Then I get to the music. It's like a movie with the plot of the Matrix (which I enjoyed thoroughly), but the special effects of early Star Wars movies. The production isn't bad, but in places the music is. I understand that's a part of RIO, and I can appreciate it to a certain extent, but I really only find a few enjoyable or fascinating moments of sound on this album. One is The Donkey-Headed Adversary of Humanity Opens the Discussion, with its rapid fire lyrics and incessant metallic clanging. It's intended to remove you from your comfort zone, and it accomplishes that (as does most of the album), but it also doesn't turn me off completely. Similarly, we have The Creature, which achieves its mission of inciting absolute disgust (lyrics about dining on fecal matter over the apparent sound of smacking lips).

That's about it for highlights in my opinion, with lots of screaming, clanging, sound effects, and other disconcerting material.

If you want anything that resembles the music you're familiar with, you won't find it here. I understand that's a reason why this album receives such high ratings. You may really enjoy the ride that SGM take you on--just know ahead of time that you will be shocked, intrigued and disgusted.

5 stars for the concept, 1 star for the music, in my humble opinion. I need more of a musical carrot to follow where SGM are leading with this album.

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Posted Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Review by obiter
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars I find the sentiments and moral lecturing of this album objectionable and patronizing at a level that only self-indulgent musicians can reach.

It's all a bit too cliche. Hymn to the Morning Star (that would be Venus/Lucifer then wouldn't it?). Oh and the donkey headed adversary: here we go again. Metally thrashy bits that to me lack any real grating edge: too nice, too clean: trying to be a bit too clever. Nevertheless there are some nice arrangements: the closing phase is particularly pleasing to the ear apart from the needless return the pseudo thrash.

Phthisis opens with real Soundgarden strength. Carla Kihlstedt's vocal lifts this song. She's not Chris Cornell (and yeah it's Bjork like) howver, she still lifts the song way beyond mediocrity. This is followed by one of the more likable tracks: Bring Back the Apocalypse: interesting rhythms: a wee bit of jungle, a smidgeon of Goldie?? At least for a brief interlude we are not being lectured.

FC Freedom Club. Sorry, I just find this a ridiculous inane diatribe backed by equally inane thrashy interludes which almost perfectly serve to detract from the theme. Gunday's Child suffers the same ailments. the 17-year Cicada is interesting and a welcome respite.

Just when you though you might be safe to return to the listening chair the Creature comes back to remind you that break is over and it's time to be patronized and lectured again. Having listened to this album a couple of dozen times only, maybe I will find some hidden revelation later, but at the moment it takes consderable will power to listen to this track right through.

What shall we do with out us, obviously not code ubuntu. i actually quite like babydoctor.

Cockroach like this song should be squished underfoot.

bottom line, an album that patronizes and lectures backed by cliched rock.

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Posted Thursday, October 25, 2007

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars A very impressive album indeed. I have listened to this many times to be sure of my opinion. This is a very difficult album to listen to. On one side it´s fairly melodic and suddenly disharmonic tones and strange time signatures kick in. Pretty confusing I must say and I must say that it destroys my listening pleasure somewhat.

It´s simply a little too avant garde for me, and I feel left out of the club sometimes. I have to praise the musicians playing here though as they are outstanding. The compositions are very clever and the melody lines are very original. The two singers both the male and the female command respect.

I would like to give this 4 stars for the outstanding musicianship showcased here, but I sometimes feel the music is weird for weirdness sake and that is a minus in my book. I´m sure if they tuned the weirdness down a bit, they could make beautiful music. If you like your music weird but at the same time pretty listenable this would qualify.

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Posted Saturday, December 01, 2007

Review by SaltyJon
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I absolutely love this album by SGM. Based on other reviews on the Archives, I picked it up as my first introduction into their odd world, and I'm very glad I decided to check this band out. Their unique instrumentation and odd vocals form such a unique whole, they're the type of band I wish was more prominent in today's music scene.

Personal favorite tracks include The Donkey-Headed Adversary and Gunday's Child. Donkey-Headed caters to the side of me which enjoys heavier music, and the instrumentation on Gunday's Child really reminds me of a mixture of early and late King Crimson styles. Plus, the singers/vocalists are both (all?) interesting. All in all, I'd say that this is a band I'm definitely going to be paying more attention to, and I hope to see more output from them in the future. I'm tempted to say it's a masterpiece, because in my opinion there's barely a weak moment on the album; plus the band is, as I said earlier, mostly unique...I can't manage to give them anything less than a 5-star rating. If bands like this are part of what I should come to expect for the new face of prog, I'm excited.

Edit: Upon further listens, while the album is good, I can't justify keeping it at masterpiece status. Down to 4 stars, as it's still an incredible album, but I don't believe it to be among the very best anymore. (5/5/09)

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Posted Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Review by 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.

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Send comments to Queen By-Tor (BETA) | Report this review (#189806) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Review by Dim
PROG REVIEWER
1 stars Wow, probably one of the biggest disappointments of my musical life. In my genuine opinion, this is embarrassing music for me to listen to, I'm not joking! If I were going to give this album to a friend who were not prepared for what they were about to hear, I could see them saying "Wow, is this children story music"? Just horrible.

I'll start with the lyrics. "Let us dream the impossible dream, of a math professor", awesome quote, how completely childish of this group! I was once told by a member on the forum here that this group was intellectual and challenging. If by that quote, and "The future sticks out it's tongue", and "we trained it to eat it's own feces" is intellectual, then I am truly at a loss as to what the meaning of the word is. The most God awful lyricism, to an otherwise good concept, it's tear jerkingly sad.

The music. Theater prog. Junior high drama class prog. When I first heard the Donkey headed adversary, I honestly was impressed, definitely not a bad song, but besides those redeeming three first minutes, the whole album tanks. With the opening song the first image that pops into my head is a clown, singing in this big goofy voice "open your heart" to a bunch of children with big smiles on their faces. I don't know about you, but that's not the image I should be seeing when I listen to "dark", "disturbing", Avant Garde music, and it's pitiful that that's what I think of. Definitely one of the parts that makes me cringe the most is on the cockroach song when the lead singer just belts out "COCKROACH" like some disney character in the next dreamworks movie. The musicality doesnt even redeem itself, with all the goofy noises, and weird instruments, I'd rather call it Mariachi than avant garde.

Garbage, a black stain on my musical listening record. Bring on the "living on a prayer", cause that (to me) sounds much better than any of the songs I had the displeasure of hearing on this album. Congratulations Sleepytime Gorilla Museum in the making of "of natural history", for it receives my first one star review!

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Posted Saturday, May 23, 2009

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Metal Team
4 stars After purchasing the debut album there was no way to avoid purchasing the follow-up release as well and, in retrospect, it was well worth it!

Sleepytime Gorilla Museum basically improved their music formula by pushing things a notch or maybe even two. All the elements have come together nicely and the result is quite staggering indeed! I feel that the sample track The Donkey-Headed Adversary Of Humanity Opens The Discussion, available on this site, might give the wrong impression of this record because most of the other tracks here are mellow in comparison to it. But that doesn't mean that it's the only highlight that Of Natural History has to offer!

The 11 minute The Freedom Club is my personal favorite composition while Cockroach takes a form of an ode to the pesky insect. Still, don't expect anything else than pure Avant-garde rock ā la Sleepytime Gorilla Museum from this album since this is exactly what you're going to get from this performance.

...Of Natural History is an excellent follow-up to the ground work that was set by Grand Opening And Closing and it feels like this band can almost do no wrong no matter the direction they decide to pursue with their future releases. Blunt and simply, an excellent addition to any prog rock music collection with a sign of the things to come!

***** star songs: The Donkey-Headed Adversary Of Humanity Opens The Discussion (6:01) FC: The Freedom Club (10:48) The Creature (6:00) Gunday's Child (6:56) Cockroach (2:12)

*** star songs: A Hymn To The Morning Star (5:40) Phthisis (3:44) Bring Back The Apocalypse (4:10) The 17-Year Cicada (3:41) What Shall We Do Without Us? (2:38) Babydoctor (13:59)

*** star songs: Hiddentrack (5:56)

Total Rating: 4,36

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Posted Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Review by EatThatPhonebook
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars 7/10

"Of Natural History" sounds like it was written by monsters.

Wow, what an album. It is classified as Avant Prog only because it's "Weird", but really it's unclassifiable. It is so diverse from all the rest of today's music that it really makes you believe that this band is formed by aliens. I picked up this album, together with "In Glorious Times", because I thought I needed to learn something more about RIO. Indeed, "Of Natural History" has taught me quite a lot.

The style is very unique, like I said: avant garde united with metal ,even some growls( they're quite frequent in the album) so it's probably not a really accessible album. We also find some jazz, classical, and a genre that really isn't definable. We also find some sounds and noises, that gives more impact to the album.

Some songs are good, some great, some weirder, some less. The first part of the album is very original, but more melodic and less creepy than the second part. In fact, in this part there is even more experimentation, and the songs are all much more bizarre and puzzling. Especially "BabyDoctor", fourteen minutes of some of the finest avant garde around today. Let's not forget, in the first part, "Phthisis", a very interesting song, so full of emotion that it blows my mind. "FC" is another avant garde masterpiece, full of excellent and unforgettable moments.

I mut say I initially didn't like this album, because I considered it a little too absurd and out of control; plus, I hated the growl parts (I usually like black or death metal), and my favorite moments were a few.

This album, after a while, grew up on me. If you're a RIO or an Avant-Garde Metal fan, consumer, you will for sure appreciate this piece of music.

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Posted Sunday, May 30, 2010

Review by frippism
COLLABORATOR RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team
5 stars Sleepytime Gorilla Museum is one of the most refreshing bands from the 21st century. Their music is something very hard to explain. But being a fairly new RIO nut, this is probably a more accessible entrance into RIO. Some people will call this Metal In Opposition, which I can agree with. Being a non-metalhead though definitely didn't my enjoyment of this album. Heck, if it's creative I like it, and this is exploding with creativity. The band plays a weird mix of metal with certain neo-classical influences and Industrial influences (They even build their own instruments which they have some pretty cool improvs with during shows).

From the beginning of "Hymn To A Morning Star", you know you're onto something very different. Speaking of the devil the "Hymn" is hilariously beautiful. The song opens with intimidating solos and leads to Nils Frykdahl's singing. And my god is it impressive. In the whole album Nils succeed in showing a very wide variety of vocal talents. From almost growling, to chanting, to screaming, he's got it all. The best songs are probably "Donkey- Headed Adversary" and "Babydoctor". "Donkey-Headed" shows SGM at their most technical, while "Babydoctor" is 14 minutes of pure insanity. Other highlights include "Brink Back The Apocalypse". The weirdest and down-right creepiest part of the album it "The Creature", which talks about a creature needs to feed, and so the people around him have to save food and learn to dine on fecal matter, while there are sounds of lips smacking in the background. Pretty gross.

The musicianship is also top notch. Carla's vocals (not THAT Bjork sounding!) are a very nice touch. Her violin is also incredible. Nils Frykdahl's guitar work is also excellent. The best musician is probably drummer Matthias Bossi, who while provides a strong backbone, has some of the better drumming I heard in a while.

The lyrics are a love/hate scenario. For the most part I love the lyrics. They're humorous, though definitely intelligent, many times providing a social and political criticism. Though I must say that the lyrics on "FC the Freedom Club" are not amazing and a bit straightforward, but not bad at any rate.

This album is a definite must for all RIO and metal fans. It was so great hearing this music and knowing that it's fairly new. SGM is one of those bands that remind you that originality is still very much alive and that there's definitely hope left (I think)!

Bassist Overview: Dan Rathbun's bass is usually pretty solid. He provides a pretty strong backbone to the music, though definitely manages to get some nice lines going for him. Overall, bass fits the music nicely, though could've been more in your face.

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Send comments to frippism (BETA) | Report this review (#315565) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, November 12, 2010

Review by friso
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Sleepy-time Gorilla Museum - Of Natural History (2004)

I usually don't listen to modern prog, but there are exceptions. Take for instance this very inventive and original album of SGM. Rightfully listed as avant-garde, this is one of most bizarre albums I listen to.

SGM mixes strange sounding metal with sounds of nature, math-metal, silly & political conceptual song-writing, tribal sounds and some other things I probably forget to mention. The use of thrash metal instrumentation combined with the avant-garde like songwriting works very well, mainly because of the amazing low vocals. The female vocals on some tracks (Gunday's Child for intance) are also very intense. The bizarre harmonics and rhythmical patterns are played on self-build instruments and all have a unique sound. The wide range of percussions give this album a soul. All instrumental parts are unique, which is perhaps the main attraction of this album.

The lyrical themes of the band are strong. I really love the lyrics of FC the Freedom Club, The Creature and Cockroach (your problems aren't mine!). Most of the lyrics are about society or bizarre made-up events. Other favorites are the heavy The Donkey-Headed Adversary of Humanity Opens the Discussion and the almost Christmas-like opener A Hymn to the Morning Star.

Conclusion. The sound of the band is often very provocative, many listeners of the 'normal' sympho-prog will find nothing of value here. In stead, this album is for those who embrace the progressive spirit and who prefer innovation above all. This album has an amazing list of totally new songs, with 'Baby Doctor' being the only weak moment. Making such an unique album must be rewarded with a big four star rating. Essential modern prog for those who dare.

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Posted Friday, February 11, 2011

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JazzRock/Fusion Teams
4 stars This album, at the time iof this writing, is my only foray into the music of Sleepytime Gorilla Museum. I doubt it will be my last.

The first thing I need to say is that this is not an album to just put on at any time of the day. I tried listening to it the first thing in the morning, on the way to work, and it is so jarring and aggressive that it just annoyed me. On the other hand, as an attitude adjustment album for the ride home, it works perfectly. The band's heaviness and complexity, mostly with time signatures, is just right after a day of stress at work.

My only complaints about the album are the vocals and the lyrics. The vocals alternate between overly theatric singing, almost operatic, and screams and growls. While this may plase some listeners, neither style appeals to me. And the lyrics at times can be facepalm inducing.

But the vocals are not enough to bring this album down from four stars. The music is just that good.

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Posted Sunday, April 17, 2011

Review by Sinusoid
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars How do you capitalise on a unique, eclectic approach to music? Sleepytime Gorilla Museum attempt (and confirm) their proud opening statement of GOaC here on OF NATURAL HISTORY where they keep most of the eccentricities, controversies and loudnesses in tact whilst branching their sound out a bit. The end result is an album that, compared to the SGM debut, has a greater sense of exploration and musicality, but drops in quality.

I'll admit being too drunk off the debut, particularly since it was the first SGM album I had heard, and it blew me away with its strangeness yet cohesion. So, knowing what to expect ruins the fun of checking out ONH for the first time, considering that the loud, metal-esque bouts, unusual vocal approaches, and eclecticness are still here. Sometimes, I feel like making comparisons to the debut album; here, ''Babydoctor'' is the big epic of the piece, and I feel that the piece was created to be OHN's ''Sleepytime''. ''Sleepytime'' is one of the best climbing, suspenseful pieces ever crafted; ''Babydoctor'' has some building to it, but it mostly floats on a couple of ideas, and runs a bit too long to outdo its predecessor.

Vocally, the band is strange, but Nils's vocal moments have their charms. Most of his performances are pretty good, but on the opening statement and the closing ''Cockroach'', he overdoes the emotion to the point where you think it's a joke (reminds me of Adam West in the 1960's Batman series; his acting is so overly-serious that it makes for accidental comedy). There are other vocal moments that are downright questionable from the geeky tone during ''The Creature'' to Carla's squirm-setting performance on ''Bring Back the Apocalypse''.

Musically, the quality of the album can get inconsistent; overdone on some parts of the album, quite nice on others. ''The Donkey-Headed Adversary of Humanity'' (kind of goth/death/theatre metal) and ''The Freedom Club'' (a great example of the band being both chaotic and sombre in one song and transitioning effectively between them) are the best songs going for OHN that I haven't mentioned yet. Some transitory pieces like ''The 17-Year Cicada'' and ''What Shall We Do Without Us?'' serve great purposes, and for some time, ''Bring Back the Apocalypse'' is a cool instrumental piece (doesn't quite match ''Ambugaton'' from the debut). Like the vocal performances, the opening and closing pieces (that ''Hidden Track'' doesn't count) are overdone, ''The Creature'' fails to do anything meaningful, and I have trouble remembering others like ''Gunday's Child''.

It's weird, it's creepy, it's bombastic, it's...it's...Sleepytime Gorilla Museum. One of the most ''out-there'' albums out there, those with an open mind for music and some taste for heavy or death metal are encouraged to check this out. I feel that SGM established their sound on GOaC, and OHN is somewhat of a perpetuation of that album. It'll make your head spin no matter your opinion of the album.

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Posted Friday, June 03, 2011

Review by Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Sleepytime Gorilla Museum's twisted brand of avant-garde metaphysical vaudeville metal is intriguingly presented on Of Natural History, which the band have described as a concept album about a debate between the philosophy of the Futurist and the ideas of the Unabomber. How the repeated chant of "Babydoctooooooooor" or the high church celebration of Satan in A Hymn to the Morning Star fits into all that, I have no idea, but either way the band create a compelling musical territory which maintains an adept balance between keeping things experimental and ensuring the music is still satisfying to listen to, even if it does drag a little towards the end.

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Posted Thursday, March 22, 2012

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Symphonic Team
4 stars Sleepytime Gorilla Museum's "Of Natural History" is a genuine oddity of avant garde prog with a blend of lunatic melodies mixed with metal distortion and some downright bizarre singing. The music is quite difficult to describe and exists in a league of its own. The band is made up of Nils Frykdahl on guitars, flute, Matthias Bossi on drums, glockenspiel, xylophone, Dan Rathbun on bass, log, roach, trombone, lute, Moe! Staiano on metal, wood, bowed spatula, glockenspiel, spring, paper, Carla Kihlstedt on violins, percussion guitar, autoharp, organ, and Frank Grau on drums, and melodica. It is certainly compelling music, bleak and eerie at times but never dull. The music interchanges so suddenly and aggressively forceful that it is rather unsettling, but it is an amazing achievement in sonic violence. The moments of beauty always have a beastly sound lurking around the door, and one never knows what to expect. The twisting musical shapes are jarring and at times amusing, in their ceaseless time signature changes. The concept of the album involves being dissatisfied with technology and attempts to escape modernity to embrace the old days of horse and cart. Technology is viewed as a monster, controlled by an adversary that must be defeated. The environmental message of returning to nature is veiled behind very obscure twisted lyrics, but it exists as a framework for the high strangeness. The breaking down of musical barriers is part of the exploration of breaking from societal control.

It begins with a snoring dog, and then some deep bass tone singing 'A Hymn to the Morning Star' that is bleak and very original in style. But there are no other songs on the album like this. The sound and style changes completely from song to song. 'The Donkey-Headed Adversary of Humanity Opens the Discussion' is basically yelled phrases and very distorted guitars that get louder and louder. 'Pthisis' has a striking vocal of Carla that is very much in the style of Bjork, and some weird music appropriately serves as a landscape.

'FC The Freedom Club' is a raucous mini epic with a lot of power and aggressiveness. The music is frenetic, riffing Meshuggah guitars and a nasty syrupy blend of violent violins and dramatic drum blastbeats. The music is very intense and it builds into a fast tempo and some odd musical arrangements. This is what avant metal is all about. It even features some high register vocals that are kind of pretty on a background of glockenspiel and ethereal music. It ends with insect sounds in an imaginary forest creating a rather eerie atmosphere.

This blends nicely into 'Gunday's Child' with an acoustic intro and some strange melodies. It feels like a tuneful Residents song, even when the vocals come in, loudly mixed to the front end and whispered seductively. It builds into a manic bass heavy tempo with avant string sounds and some passionate singing. This song has some weird time sigs and is perhaps darker in style than previous tracks.

More cicada effects are heard for the appropriately titled 'The 17 Year Cicada', which is really a musical piece of Oriental percussion and some booming bass drums. The cicadas are intensely scattered along with high pitch pipes and frenetic flute playing. The roaches sound like they are being squished and strangles leading to the odd meter of 'The Creature'. This track is very dark with some heart pounding lyrics spoken out in a deep bass voice. It is a musical poetry about a perpetually hungry creature. The squishy sounds and bizarre music is very much like The Residents' style. This is perhaps the weirdest track on the album, with disturbing lyrics and breathing, insect noises, as well as dramatic creepy clangs and bangs. The bass is kind of like Primus, all over the place and out of sync with the weird guitar melodies.

The strong Southern American accent of spoken dialogue next reminds me of Godspeed You! Black Emperor on 'What Shall We Do Without Us'. It has a hillbilly violin sound, like Comus, a female vocal at times and then builds to loud crashing bass and guitar before returning to the violin hoedown sound and female vocals. This is as weird as they get, and ends with more crickets chirping. It all feels as though we are outside a shed listening in on a bunch of hillbilly lunatics.

The spoken dialogue returns to usher in the lengthy 'Babydoctor'. At 14 minutes this is the longest song and it begins slowly with strumming guitar and a creepy atmospheric drone. A heartbeat bass comes in with rhythmic tones, building in volume. It eventually gets extreme with growling vocals and a blend of fast percussion, guitars, strings and a plethora of heavy banging on homemade tools. The percussion is terrific, off kilter and jazzy. After an aggressive freakout, it drops into a slow tempo and some whispered voices. A tolling bell rings out and some eerie violins, creating an ominous atmosphere. Dialogue returns that makes little sense but adds to the uneasy feeling that something sinister is going to happen.

'Cockroach' follows with deeper vocals and some unusual effects, including squeaks, ethereal female vocal intonations and xylophones. 'The Hidden Track' follows that is not even hidden, which is part of the irony, and there are more cicada insect noises that build and those odd dialoguing men return. I like the bullfrog noises here and the overall night insect sounds. I wish I knew what the men are on about but it sounds deceptively like frivolous chatter. The insects continue for a while and then the snoring dog returns heard at the beginning of the album. It goes silent until bird whistles chime in, as if we have survived the night and are now in the dawn of day. The weird male voices sound as if they are mimicking nature's sounds.

I can only conclude that this is an album of an incredible original sound, disharmonious and experimental unlike any music I have heard. It deserves its reputation as a triumph of avant garde prog, as it is constantly striving to break down the barriers of music. It is brutally unsettling, but nevertheless a very compelling experience.

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Send comments to AtomicCrimsonRush (BETA) | Report this review (#800137) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, August 04, 2012

Latest members reviews

4 stars To hear RIO music you need to have the time, the mood, an open mind and be ready to listen to the craziest things you may find. Sleepytime Gorilla Museum creates Of Natural History and like an extravagant dish, which some people may adore and others simply reject, the album is very complicate ... (read more)

Report this review (#1015817) | Posted by Memo_anathemo | Saturday, August 10, 2013 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Greetings ladies and gents! Step right up to the Sleepytime Gorilla Museum! Looking for lush, gorgeous melodies? Looking for blissful, peaceful, melodic music? Looking for a nice, easy to like sort of prog? Well we're going to have to advise you to visit a different museum! Sleepytime Gorilla ... (read more)

Report this review (#543493) | Posted by DisgruntledPorcupine | Wednesday, October 05, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars The thrill of listening to this music goes beyond a primal rush of adrenaline or even a chilling sense of uneasiness. The emotion is a more complex one that rarely sees the light of day. It is an understanding, a twisted beauty that dares the listener to defy his cultural conditioning and escape f ... (read more)

Report this review (#444635) | Posted by Earendil | Sunday, May 08, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars SGM is a provoking band, stirring up emotions and ideas that for some is too much. It's very pretentious music, from a group of people I am not sure I would enjoy the company of(if any of the views they present on their albums are truly theirs). However, SGM is also one of the greatest bands to have ... (read more)

Report this review (#190268) | Posted by Lezaza | Sunday, November 23, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Sleepytime Gorilla Museum - Of Natural History This is one is light-years above the predecessor. Of Natural History is actually near perfect, in terms of what this band can pull off. It is only hindered by the few throwaway tracks contained within it. If you know nothing of this band, here's a ... (read more)

Report this review (#170911) | Posted by Figglesnout | Tuesday, May 13, 2008 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This album is truely progressive in that it takes music to new levels where it has never gone before, and does it all with one of the most ridiculously talented bands i know. Their sound is more unique and immediately identifiable than any other band, with characteristic noises and instruments as ... (read more)

Report this review (#161656) | Posted by The Ace Face | Tuesday, February 12, 2008 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This album had me entranced from the very first listen. The music is dark, frightening, foreboding, and builds itself in waves, rising and falling repeatedly throughout each song. The style changes drastically throughout the album, meant to create an unsettled, changing landscape of sound. The ... (read more)

Report this review (#150436) | Posted by MonkeyphoneAlex | Monday, November 12, 2007 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This will be the first time ever reviewing an album so bear with me as I voice my opinion. I am always been frightened of listening to anything avagrade or rio just because I figured that it was perhaps a little too weird for my tastes, but after receiving a copy of Alamaailman Vasarat's Maahan ... (read more)

Report this review (#138714) | Posted by rambaron | Sunday, September 16, 2007 | Review Permanlink

5 stars First review here, so I'll make it short and simple. IMO this is one of the most important prog albums. There isn't much more that I can add, due to the fact that everything has been said about this album and about this beautiful, unique and extra ordinary band. A combination of intelligent ... (read more)

Report this review (#138696) | Posted by JNec | Sunday, September 16, 2007 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Oh boy, first review. Here it goes... Sleepytime Gorilla Museum's second album, Of Natural History, is quantum leaps and bounds ahead of it's predicessor, Grand Opening and Closing in every way. This would be the review simply put, but I feel that I should expound upon the album's ... (read more)

Report this review (#133918) | Posted by cookieacquired | Monday, August 20, 2007 | Review Permanlink

5 stars First time I heard this album it completely blew me away, and it just gets better with every listen. No other band I've ever heard seems to be able to create such a nightmarish atmosphere. Almost every element of their music is one-of-a-kind: the instruments used, the impossible time-signatures, t ... (read more)

Report this review (#132920) | Posted by Kaizer_O | Monday, August 13, 2007 | Review Permanlink

5 stars From the first track i knew i would love it. Probably the thing that got me hooked the most on this album was their creativity and weirdness. I was scared first time listening to this album...and i LOVED it. They use instruments unconvential to those of typical prog. They use the brick, organs, ... (read more)

Report this review (#127741) | Posted by fungusucantkill | Friday, July 06, 2007 | Review Permanlink

5 stars For few reasons, this album is one of the best artistic creations i've ever heard: *"Of Natural History" comibens delicately between classic motives and ass kicking metal mlodies. *the combination between well-known classic instruments and unknown (sometimes weird) new instruments creates ... (read more)

Report this review (#123701) | Posted by vakrat | Tuesday, May 29, 2007 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This is a quite remarkable and unusual album. It is also an excellent album, which embraces the true spirit of what it means to be a progressive artist. This is a band who are not afraid to experiment with both instrumentation and musical styles. Some of the instruments used are home made and ... (read more)

Report this review (#120490) | Posted by scarista | Wednesday, May 02, 2007 | Review Permanlink

5 stars WELCOME TO THE MUSEUM OF DELIGHTS AND DREAMS With their 2nd release,SLEEPYTIME GORILLA MUSEUM declare clearly their predominant position on the Avant-Garde scene.Band like KAYO DOT,UNEXPECT,AGALLOCH,ARCTURUS and Sleepytime himself make me full of joy when I listen to them.For some years i'v ... (read more)

Report this review (#117800) | Posted by Kill Fede | Tuesday, April 10, 2007 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I don't recall I had hear something like this ever before.After hearing single track on Progarchives I decided to give this album a try.Purchased it few days back and i'm still recovering from the brutal attack on all of my senses.Sleepytime gorilla museum is highly original American band like ... (read more)

Report this review (#113436) | Posted by ljubaspriest | Saturday, February 24, 2007 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Prog metal in Avant sauce Prog. metal has never been my cup of tea. Even though they are listed under RIO/Avant category. This particular release is definitely in the Prog metal camp. I have enjoyed their previous release "grand opening and closing" a lot more since the balance of that re ... (read more)

Report this review (#104295) | Posted by spleenache | Saturday, December 23, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Dark, disgusting, and different. Don't listen to with the lights out. In these musicians you'll hear a heavy Henry Cow influence taking on metallic edge. Sleepytime Gorilla Museum create their sound with a wide array of instrumentation, over-dramaticized vocals, and a healthy bit of insanity. An ... (read more)

Report this review (#80664) | Posted by Equality 7-2521 | Thursday, June 08, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars For anyone wondering if there is any good progressive rock after the 70s prog, this is an album for you. This album continue the spirit of the old prog without duplicate it. The envelope here is prog metal, but inside it is much more diverse. There are many more elements and styles, such as stylisti ... (read more)

Report this review (#70747) | Posted by ShW1 | Tuesday, February 28, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Oh good god .. Im glad I was abble to hear this in time (iow: before my death), it was so hard to find something about this band, I think Im the only brazilian to ever hear SGM, since they never released any album down here. What a pity. Well the sound is CREPPY, its DARK, and it has some heavy ... (read more)

Report this review (#68640) | Posted by andz | Tuesday, February 07, 2006 | Review Permanlink

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