The mark of a successful concept album, in my estimation, is its ability to fully immerse itself in its referenced ideology/philosophy/text while maintaining broad appeal to those who are not fully invested in the subject matter. It’s fairly rare that a band finds this delicate balance. Chicago’s Scientist have struck the golden mean with their masterful, sprawling, and enthralling third full-length record Barbelith. Inspired by Grant Morrison’s comic book series The Invisibles, and titled after an entity considered the “placenta” of humanity, this record is thoroughly engaging from start to finish, and we at Heavy Blog Is Heavy are incredibly pleased to present to you a full stream of the record.
As someone who is unfamiliar with the source material on which this album is thematically based, I approached the music contained here from an outsider’s perspective. But man oh man does this record make me want to buy every issue of this series and read it immediately. If it’s half as good as this record, readers are in for a trip. “Chokhmah/binah” is a flat-out ripper of an opening track, establishing the band’s sludgey post-metal vibe with clarity and brute force. Eric Plonka and Barry Kotarba’s vocals simmer with aggression and power, though the guitar work of Plonka and Patrick Auclair fundamentally steals the show. Their manic playing in the latter half of this track pushes a death metal-esque madness front-and-center, but this abrasiveness is never bereft of a melodic underpinning. “Magick Mirror” brings the band’s melody-driven songwriting into sharp focus from its very first notes, allowing the listener to be carried onto an alternate plane through the power of the riff. Here, Justin Cape’s insanely skilled drumming comes to bear in a big way, as he vacillates between more open, progressive passages and insane black metal blasting that launches the track into the sonic stratosphere. The album’s title-track is a menacing slab of sludge-infused goodness, with Matthew Milligan’s bass playing a prominent role in creating an aura of abject heaviness throughout. All of this sound appealing? The remainder of the record is just as good, if not better. It’s an album with a varied sonic vision that takes all of its disparate musical components and fuses them into a ravishing whole. It’s ambitious in all the right ways, and cashes in on every promise it makes.
If you are familiar with the work being referenced in this record, I think you will find plenty to relish. If you, like myself, have no prior experience with the source material being explored, it most certainly won’t stop you from enjoying every second of this record. Listen, and be transported. It’s a sonic journey well worth your while. The record drops this Friday (4/13) and is available to pre-order on the band’s Bandcamp page.
You can also catch Scientist live over the next few months on the dates and at the venues below:
4/20/2018 Gman Tavern – Chicago, IL w/ Marmora
4/26/2018 Burlington – Chicago, IL w/ Cokegoat, Corridoré
4/27/2018 Quarters – Milwaukee, WI w/ Cokegoat, Corridoré
4/28/2018 The Wisco – Madison, WI w/ Cokegoat, Corridoré
6/3/2018 Doomed & Stoned Fest @ Reggies – Chicago, IL
6/9/2018 Burlington – Chicago, IL w/ Dethbeds, Axioma