The Schoenberg Automaton: Vela Reviewed

I don’t really want to make this review, because I wanted to make the promise that if I didn’t have anything nice to say, then I won’t say anything at all. This review will just make me enemies probably when it gets posted to the band’s Facebook and the fans come and curse me out. But let’s face it, the blog will be silent for even longer if I wait for something I really like before writing a review.

The album Vela dropped January 21, 2013. How did I find it? Well, I’ve been writing a piano sonata recently and one of the big influences on the style I’ve been using has been Schoenberg. Schoenberg was an early 20th century pioneer of something called 12-tone composing. His music is technically “atonal” because it doesn’t have a traditional tonal center.

I’ve been listening to a lot of Schoenberg’s piano works and they are extremely peaceful, beautiful, amorphous blobs of sounds. I’m really into it right now, so you can see how maybe a mathcore band isn’t my thing at the moment. What is the Schoenberg Automaton? Well, just replace peaceful with brutal, beautiful with … well, sometimes they are beautiful, but mostly they aren’t, and amorphous with tight rhythmical playing.

To a mathcore band this adjectives are actually all great compliments. I’m not going to say they aren’t good. In fact, I’d say they are quite a great mathcore band, and as soon as my mood returns to its usual self where I’m looking for a great mathcore band I’ll return to this album first thing.

Overall, they remind me of a pretty standard old-school style Dillinger Escape Plan crossed with some djent. And by that I mean their time signatures are all over the place, but slightly more patterned and groovy than maybe some traditional attempts of mathcore to sound as utterly random as possible.

To me the album is hit and miss. I can kind of get into the songs that have great technical riffs as part of the pattern. The technical riffs add enough interesting tonality and texture to keep my interest. A lot of the songs sound more like a death metal band jamming out and it feels kind of static to me. I just can’t get into those parts of it.

When I count it out it is still just as crazy, but it just doesn’t feel it. Maybe I should applaud their ability to make technical mathcore sound natural. The parts of this that I absolutely love are when there really are Schoenberg-esque sounds. There are moments when the chaos clears and we are left with an amorphous blob of sound (including the song that is a clip from Orson Welle’s War of the Worlds radio broadcast). It is a really cool effect.

All in all, I couldn’t really get into the album, but I realize it is more just my own temperament (being into the real Schoenberg). I highly recommend it to fans of mathcore (including my future self), but as for now I’m only giving it a 6/10. If you’re in the mood for this type of thing add 2 to that, since I don’t have much negative to say about it technically speaking.

Here’s a clip that has the effect I referred to:

For a sample of real Schoenberg:


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