Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Illness - (2012) A Monument to Our Gilded Age

“A complex amalgamation of progressive rock, blistering fast metal & jazz-influenced instrumentation.  The band is its own brand of monster with talented musicianship and the prog side of genre integration.”    This is what I read as I listen to this cd.  I fully expect to hear something new, a different kind of sound, one that has not been touched on, or at the very least, not been heard or played by many bands.
My expectations are met halfway through Lengua De La Muerte.  With its crushing riffs, and time changes, it captured me quickly just how much talent this band has.  I’ll be the first to admit that I am simple rock guy; however, as this song moves along, I can’t help but wonder what I have been missing.   These ears have not heard so much action going on in one song, in a very very long time.  Where did music like this go?  An eye in the Walls is more of the same.  A punishing onslaught of terror, mixed with the sweet beauty of a lush waterfall. 

The title track is just an orgy of sound, a delight to the ears.  From the slight sound of the drum & guitar intro, to the rolling bass , the groove is infectious.  The voice that comes next is just the perfect sound of a singer confidently swimming along with the music.  He seems to have no limits, executing the soft sound of a butterfly, flying, to the growl of a wolf.  There is nothing simple here.  They take you on a never-ending ride, twists & turns at each corner, in each second, from each riff.  This is how music should be made.   Fire Escape is a more straightforward song, with its pedal to the metal pace.

Slowpoke is one of those songs that you can listen to over and over and hear something new & refreshing each time.  Like a walk through the forest, the angelic sounds of nature overwhelming you, and it is this feeling of wanting to stay, to absorb all that you can before it is all taken away.  This is moment I am in, this is Slowpoke…which then leads into a short yet beautiful acoustic instrumental Krakatoa, like the sun shining through the trees, and it is the perfect sister to brother Slowpoke.

Misanthropy is next, and what a number it is.  Fierce and ferocious, the music pummels you into submission, and then executes perfect time changes, in one instant were hammered by speed metal riffs & roars, and then the next instant a jazz metal fusion with a layer of groove washed over it.   You would never guess that this song is over 5mins. swiftly along does it indeed carry you.  Turn your Head is another, for this band, straightforward song.  A heavy bass line propels this along, with swirly guitars overlapping.  Like a smooth ride, you’re caught in its trance, & just as the ride is about to end, a straight hardcore breakdown occurs, and just nails you straight in the face with its fury.  Holy shit. 

Take a Number is a spoken word manifestation of the realities of this world.  There is a sense that he is not alone in his thoughts.  Defenestration follows a feeling that it is an extension of Take a Number.  However this time, we are bombarded with a wall of music, encompassing the song, the band, the listener.  This is the direct goal. You can feel the anger built up, although not in a hateful way, the message comes across with a passion that is real, a sorrowful tale of where we may be headed.
Swimming in the ocean.  The waves gently roll across your face, your body.  You’re alone in mind, but not shut off.  You can reach out, by why strain, when all you’re after is all you have? Darkness slowly stretches across the sullen sky.  The storm is on its way. Where do you go from here?  Downside Outright is just that for me.  It is a journey, with its melodic pleasing melody, once fooled you are with the clean singing, the clear whirl of sound from the instruments.  Delicate, they spin you around.  Caught, a simple tempo change to make their point and all you can do is sit here and just appreciate the wondrous control that the Illness have over you.  It may be the slowest song on the record, but the band still manages to keep you enthralled.  What more could you ask for in a song?

We end the record off with Victory, and a victory it is.  Just fantastic musicianship on this song, from the guitars to the bass to the drumming.  Victory leads you down many roads, entering one house while leaving another and this is the path that continues for the rest of the song. The width of the music is beyond scope. The Illness interweaves so very many different styles not only on Victory, but on this whole album.  This is a fitting way to end the album, as it showcases everything the band can deliver, and they certainly do deliver it well.

There is so much possibility in the Illness.  I, for one, am greatly appreciative of hearing a band like this.  I cannot begin to tell you how good this is.  They manage to take so many styles (Mastadon, Mars Volta etc…) and make it their own.  They seem to have the capacity to reach bigger & better heights, to push beyond the boundaries that are found on this record.   Not many bands could I claim to have this going for them.  If you like music (because I do not want to pigeonhole them into a said genre) then you MUST give this a listen.  It is one of the most diverse records I have ever heard.  With 12 songs, they give you the perfect ammunition for your ears, the absolute record experience.  Do yourself a favor and pick up the cd, you will not be disappointed. 



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