Behold the Arctopus
02. Monolithic Destractions
04. Deluge of Sores
[Black Market Activities]
Every so often there’s an album that can change someone’s perspective on music. For whatever reason, good or bad, this record alters the way a person thinks of music. Records like Gorguts‘ Obscura, Cynic‘s Traced in Air, or Primus‘ Frizzle Fry push musical boundaries and cause people to think of it in a whole new light. Behold the Arctopus‘ latest release, Horrorscension, has the potential to be one of those albums for a lot of people.
It’s been some time since the band’s last release Skullgrid (five years to be exact), and one-third of the band’s lineup have changed since then. Returning member WARR Guitarist Colin Marston spent the years in limbo playing with bands Krallice and Gorguts, as well as doing behind-the-scenes work for many others, greatly expanding his already immense musical talents. Anyone familiar with the band will know that their brand of instrumental jazz-metal is composed in written form before it’s ever played; this hasn’t changed with the addition of Weasel Walter (The Flying Luttenbachers) on drums. The nature of the music’s creation is really the crux of why it’s so polarizing in nature; it’s not centered around a riff or a part, but rather the compositions and the progression of the compositions as a whole.
Behold the Arctopus create crazy music. It’s a combination of jazz and metal, of the most avant-garde nature. It’s not music that fits any standard form or structure, extremely reminiscent of free jazz grandaddy Ornette Coleman’s style. Unlike free jazz, however, the composed nature of the work allows the unlikely structures and elegant instrumental interplay to reach new levels of complexity not available with pure improvisation. Due to the very nature of the pieces, it’d be slightly unfair to call them “songs” so much as “compositions.” Describing each piece on its own would boil down to vaguely describing the frenetic, swirling patterns of notes and relating the advanced nature of the techniques used to create them in generic, sickeningly boring hyperbole.
That being said, this isn’t an album that can be given a truly appropriate score. By no means is it a bad album; quite the contrary — it’s amazing. It’s a complex work of modern musical art, and that’s why it is so hard to quantify with an arbitrary score. These compositions (because once again, they aren’t necessarily ‘songs’) are entertaining, and they’re awe-striking, but they aren’t made with the same intent as something that you could review. Said Marston about the record, “I accept that the music is not for a general audience and that musicians are more likely to relate to it due to the density, but I see a huge difference between this band and say, Yngwie Malmsteen or Dream Theater or anyone who really wants you to notice how proficient they are. I would love it if, when people hear Horrorscension, they think ‘Whoa, what the hell is going on?’ rather than ‘Wow, they can play their instruments well.’ I want the focus to be on the content, not the performance.” These songs are a showpiece, constructs of artistic talent and ingenuity, made to make the listener THINK. If you’re the kind of person who enjoys music that makes you think, this album could be one of your favorites, probably one of the best ever in this genre. However, if you’re not into music as purely art, then it might not hold your interest.
Behold the Arctopus – Horrorscension