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Thinking Plague - In Extremis CD (album) cover

IN EXTREMIS

Thinking Plague

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

4.31 | 180 ratings

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Luqueasaur
5 stars In Extreme Oddity: 9/10

THINKING PLAGUE always had it rough for their unique musical style. Forming and disbanding constantly and receiving modest attention for their releases, it wasn't until the release of IN EXTREMIS in 1998 (the band had reformed just two years earlier) that they acquired (rather moderate) stardom and recognition within many avant- rock circles.

IN EXTREMIS is a difficult album to describe, even within the Avant-Prog genre. Let's begin by making one thing clear: THINKING PLAGUE is not the type of avant-garde band that is absolutely inaccessible (aka weird for the sake of weirdness). They DO sound like, uhm, identifiable music, the only catch is that everything - song structure, chord progression, vocal rhythm, etc - is absolutely unconventional and unexpected. Planned to border cacophony (creating unpredictable and eerie sounds) but not going as far as sounding bad. You can also expect EXTREME complexity and rigid structures; TP is to prog what prog is to pop. You'll hear all the time lush polyphony with constant odd time signatures shift and restless, ever-changing sections consisting of several instruments. However, THINKING PLAGUE make their intricate music flow natural - quite an accomplishment - and you won't notice its elaborate nature unless you pay attention to that.

Amusingly, the vocalist of that mad band has quite a tender voice. I ended up loving Deborah Perry as much as I love Jon Anderson. They both offer gentle, delicate and soprano (acute/high-pitched) vocals, but differently from our British friend whose vocals fit seamlessly in the joyful and mystical atmosphere of his band, Perry's performance is antithetical: her delicacy contrasts with the bustling instrumental clash that accompanies her voice. Initially, it feels odd (just like everything else in THINKING PLAGUE) but as you get used it feels more and more natural and part of the band's eccentric style. After all, it doesn't sound disjunct or like a failed stunt.

Dead Silence and Behold the Man are the first two tracks and offer Perry's vocals. They're great openers and demonstrate the band's RIOish tendencies and influences. This Weird Wind is less daring and more symphonic at some points and features male vocals but is equally a great listen. Les Etudes d'Organism is the most accessible track, offering a typical avant-prog approach to music with much more conventional songwriting and melodies. It is entirely instrumental. Maelstrom and The Aesthete returns with Perry's vocals but isn't as memorable as the first two. Lastly, Kingdom Come is a veiled critique of the hypocrisy of divinity (which is all so holy and pitiful yet created a world with suffering and damnation) with heeeeavy symphonic tendencies.

Overall, I'd say listening to IN EXTREMIS is like being an astronaut plunging in an unforeseen and utterly weird planet. Although you are familiar with the very foundational characteristics of that planet (such as, you're in that planet), pretty much everything else on it is different, unlike anything you've ever seen and known. But hey, that's the point of avant-prog, which is why I pretty confidently claim that THINKING PLAGUE is a hell of an accomplished band.

Luqueasaur | 5/5 |

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