Super Massive Black Holes – Calculations of the Ancients22nd April 2014
So I read with interest, or was it terror, that a band existed which blended Death Metal, Rock, Jazz-Fusion, Prog, Blues, and “Other” seamlessly.
This is exactly what Calgary’s Super Massive Black Holes claim to have done. Bassist Denver commented on their approach to the album saying “It’s a total DIY effort”. The guys have done everything from the artwork to the mastering in the studio.
The previous two paragraphs suggest 1 of 2 things, daring inventiveness, or a car crash of genres, but which is it to be?
First of all, expect an unlimited and irrepressible level of experimentation, as you get sci-fi sounding lead guitars zapping away with roared through death vocals. Trying to detect discernible song structure seems to be a bit of a rarity in some tracks especially the intro “(Sub-molecular) Transmogrification of the Oriphy”. But the true spirit of SBMH comes out in “The Dyatlov Pass” Incident were blues, jazz and death metal somehow meet at a seldom traversed crossroad of musicality.
The less patient amongst you may well be inclined to turn off, but I’d encourage you to stick around for the mayhem and sheer disregard for the rules and regulations of music. The most intriguing part about the composition is that it doesn’t seem possible that a human could compose such unruly and absurd music, I mean, it will melt your head it is that illogical!!
So what’s the appeal? I don’t think I would be being unfair if I said it’s very niche!! There are some righteous riffs such as in “Distance To The Great Attractor” combining prog and death metal perfectly. This is naturally followed up by a jazz bass bridge and freestyle lead guitar jamming, on the disturbing side of quirky!!
To be fair to SMBH, when they started out as a “Play Anything Project” and the guys still do this to this day. To give them their dues, they have had the integrity to stick to their ethos, but with the motto play anything, comes a certain amount of risk. What audience the band want to reach, is perplexing and intriguing at the same time if I’m honest.
There are some shining lights in this album though, the improv jam at the start of “Mathematics Of Emotion” is inspired. “Refracted Kaleidoscopic Photons” is on the borderline of madness or genius, combining mellow jazz leads with distorted guitars and death vocals.
“Ghosts Of Bhopal” is atmospheric and shows the bands strengths, establishing a sombre and thoughtful mood at the songs beginning and proceeding to rip through this with an onslaught of punishing lead and rhythm distortion!! An outro which gets close to prog bliss, was most welcome, I have to say.
Listening to SMBH and trying to decode their musical story is how I imagine conducting a conversation with an Extraterrestrial Being might play out: You make no sense of what they are trying to say and sense you don’t have the IQ to comprehend the message anyway.
“Lift The Veils” ends the chaotic scientific cacophony, with a lone voice muffled and robotic, uttering an indecipherable monologue. Laid back with just the right kind of lazy rhythm and hazy atmosphere ends the album. In this fuzzy coma you drift off, wondering what just happened to you, like you’ve just been abducted by a higher intelligence, that has beamed it’s music directly into your brain.
How do I rate this, it’s a dilemma, my head is spinning, I loved the sheer audacity, but was puzzled by the ingrediants added to songs across the album, jazz, death metal, blues, thrash, of which I like to varying degrees. Surely the end goal is to make the supposedly incoherent, coherent, isn’t it? I fear I will never quite get it, but it was a unique experience nonetheless!!
Score: 7 out of 10
1.. (Sub-molecular) Transmogrification of the Oriphy
2.. The Dyatlov Pass Incident
3.. ∞÷µ (interlude)
4.. Distance to the Great Attractor
5.. Holographic Principle
6.. Mathematics Of Emotion
7.. Refracted Kaleidoscopic Photons
8.. Ghosts of Bhopal
9.. Lift the Veils
29th April 2014
For Fans Of:
Genre defying madness