Halfway Mini-Reviews

Well, we’re closing in on halfway through the year. I’ll lead up to a halfway through the year round-up with two posts of mini-reviews on albums I’ve listened to, but haven’t gotten around to reviewing for whatever reason. Then I’ll do a retrospective on what I messed up on in 2012. That’s a lot to do in the next couple of weeks!

First up: Ken Mode’s Entrench. I was really, really looking forward to this album. I’ve also listened to it many times. Way more than enough to review it. I actually like it a lot. It has a frenetic, chaotic, and angry quality that you’d expect from a really young band, but it is actually quite well put together. This album reminds me of Converge’s last one in this respect. They take the good qualities of a young band and the good qualities of a mature band, smash them together, and throw out the problems with both.

They use all sorts of interesting textures to fill out a huge, deep band sound. Every time I listen to it I come across new interesting things. So why haven’t I gotten around to reviewing it? Honestly, it is just incredibly unmemorable. For some reason, whenever I think about reviewing it, I start to think about what I’m going to say. Then I realize I can’t think of what any of the songs are or what they sound like. Seriously. It makes no sense. I really like the album when I listen to it, but for some reason forget the whole thing when it’s over. So I like it, but just haven’t gotten around to it for this reason.

Here’s a sample (and possibly my favorite):

Next up: TesseracT’s Altered State. On the one hand, it is easy to say why I haven’t reviewed this. It is just too new. I’ve spent most of my time with Leprous which released the same day. On the other hand, there is good reason I went with Leprous and not this one. I just cannot get into this. I’ve listened to it more than five times, and plan on a few more. But it isn’t growing on me.

With that out of the way, this album has its moments for sure. Some of my favorite moments of the year will probably come from this album. The entire track “Of Matter – Resist” could end up one of my favorite songs of the year. It is shear beauty at the start with those great vocal harmonies and flowing lines. Then it builds to that climactic section where the line flows in all sorts of variations and harmonies over top of the choppy djenty guitar work. Wow. Love it. And it gets stuck in my head all day.

I also love those few sax parts. Maybe I’m biased since my Ph.D. thesis is about Calabi-Yau manifolds, but “Of Reality – Calabi-Yau” constructs a beautiful soundscape with a great sax solo. I’m a sucker for good jazz fusion with metal. Why can’t the whole album be like these? Or even the whole last section “Of Energy?” Except for a few other fleeting moments like these ones it just feels super generic. The djenty guitar work seems so cliche and done.

There’s only so many times you can bang out djent rhythms before I get bored. I think TesseracT has a ton to offer in the future if they grab on to how they’ve surpassed the genre rather than embraced the cliche. There’s a lot of good on this album, but not enough to get me excited about the thing as a whole.

Here’s a sample:

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