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Shaolin Death Squad - Intelligent Design CD (album) cover


Shaolin Death Squad


Progressive Metal

4.07 | 83 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

5 stars What do you get when you combine Mr. Bungle with fantastic progressive writing? You get Intelligent Design! This is a criminally overlooked album that will impress and captivate you from start to finish. Shaolin Death Squad is able to weave in nice, proggy riffs with the Mr. Bungle-esque circus atmosphere and an extremely wide range of vocal styles. You'll find yourself humming and dancing along to songs within 2 listens, guaranteed! To hear some of the baritone Mike Patton styled vocals mixed with straight growling and peaceful falsettos all within the same song will be a treat that very few bands could ever hope to replicate. The fact that their lyrics are thought-provoking and entertaining also is just one more reason to rejoice. Pretty much every song on this album is at least 4 out of 5 stars and every song is at least a 3, but here are the highlights:

A Story Lives Forever - This song is the best song Shaolin Death Squad has put out, IMO. It has a memorable opening riff and the verses have two main riffs that contrast sharply with one another but somehow lead perfectly into the next section, which may as well be Mike Patton as guest vocalist before then breaking down into a cool, heavy rhythm-based badassery section which then leads into a great sweep arpeggio solo before the song closes out with more circus music and Patton-styled vocals. This is a song that will grab you and having you put it on repeat indefinitely.

Choreographer of Fate - The peaceful intro to this song with the strings and clean guitars sets the tone for the bass-driven riff that comes next, but it doesn't fully prepare you for the swinging 6/8 verse that follows. After that comes a very playful refrain that heads straight into a California-era Mr. Bungle chorus. Throw in a dramatic spoken word section followed by a very dissonant guitar solo which is then followed by a thrashy heavy metal riff complete with death vocals and this song has already given you a ton of quality music, but it doesn't stop there. Next you get a beautiful melodic guitar solo before the song ends with another peaceful, playful verse and one final chorus. The song is extremely nuanced and perfect in every way.

Escaping Absynthe - This is an edgy, guitar/bass-driven song with a mixture of death metal growls and soaring clean vocals. It doesn't have the odd time signatures that many of their songs have but it makes up for it by grabbing you right away with catchy, interesting riffs and vocals.

A Terrible Way to Use a Sword - If you can listen to this song and not feel pumped up when you hear "TO USE A SWORD" growled, then this band isn't for you... This is an amazing album opener that revolves around the eastern views of respect and honor on the battlefield. It has the perfect balance between heavy, edginess and melodic pleasantness. This song sets the tone for the rest of the album and gives you a great idea what to expect the rest of the way.

Other great songs: Catastrophic Obedience Radio Feeler

Good songs: The Face That Insecurity Killed Rise, Fall, Laugh... Fall First Half of Yesterday

Bad songs: None. Every song on this album is high quality.

If you're a fan of prog music, at least a few songs on this album will become favorites. If you're a fan of Mr. Bungle or anything that Mike Patton has done, you'll probably love the entire album. This band is absolutely worth checking out regardless of your favorite genre of music, as it has redeeming and unique qualities that need to be experienced.

TheMasterMofo | 5/5 |


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