The Sounds of Animals Fighting – The Ocean and the Sun – 4/5
Borne out of the ska band “Rx Bandits” to call this band experimental doesn’t quite convey the full meaning of the word; it would be like saying Cannibal Corpse sound ‘mildly agitated.’ It’s as though they have tossed away the rulebook and come up with their own set of guidelines, and then proceeded to systematically break them in turn. With a strong 'post-hardcore meets post-rock' core to their sound, they fuse the occasional atmospheric electronic passage with an (at times eerie sounding) space-rock psychedelic motif, intertwined with passages of unbridled technicality in the veins of rolo tomassi or protest the hero and a healthy dollop of good ol’ fashioned noise rock. Needless to say, this is a real bitch to adequately describe.
Despite the number of guests, especially vocalists, throughout the album, the vast majority of the music is performed the core of four, who for the most part contribute an impressive degree of prowess which is essential in making an endeavour such as this work. Perhaps the weakest link is the lead vocalist, those with hatred for ‘screamo’ vocals need not fear, for whilst shouting frequently occurs in the more aggressive passages, it all retains a comparatively clean tone. Performing well within his niche but with limited range, this could easily result in a monotonous affair at times, if not for the guitarist contributing heavily, as well as the aforementioned guests. Used sparingly, it contributes much like an additional layer of instrumentation, switching vocalists like a guitarist uses his effects pedals.
And with the guitarist, performing more of a fluid transitional piece than standard riffs, is the primary contributor to the atmosphere presented, be it psychedelic and slow or upbeat technical mastery. From the cleanest – almost jazzy – tones to the gritty and crunchy distortion of hard rock his versatility and creativity is pivotal in making this release so bizarre. Despite this, the show for me is well and truly stolen by the drumming, insatiably chaotic, there are no simple beats to be heard here. Even in the slower passages, he provides a constant variation, working an unusual harmony with the rest of the instrumentation that assists in doing so much more than just keeping a beat. A modern master of his instrument, if he ever receives considerable recognition it won’t be a moment too soon.
But despite all this, it’s not an album for everyone; it is at the end of the day, one of the most bizarre sounding pieces I’ve had the joy of listening to. However, if you do decide to embark on this 50 minute journey, prepare yourself for an acid-overdose of a lifetime.
Highlights: Another Leather Lung, The Heraldic Break of the Manufacturer’s Medallion, Blessings be your Mister V, On the Occasion of Wet Snow