A trend I’ve noticed over the past few years is that “weird” is automatically associated with “good”. I think that’s far from true but it’s really quite hard to put your finger on what makes one weird thing actually good and something else bad. At the end of the day, perhaps the common idiom/adage “Your Mileage May Vary” is the most succinct way to put it: one thing might be original and exciting for one person and contrite and fake for the other. It’s a matter of “pulling it off”, which is a generalization supposed to make things like aesthetic, cultural context, and subjectivity easier to digest. A good example for me is Cyborg Octopus; we’re big fans of the band over here at the blog, ever since their 2016 release Learning to Breathe, and its boisterous and irreverent approach to genres graced our ears. Other bands of the sort, acts which play a weird, “kooky”, and unhinged type of progressive death metal, always seem bland and paper-thin to me. But there’s something about how Cyborg Octopus approach the same style that just works for me.
Maybe it’s that I feel like they put their musicianship above and beyond any obligation to be weird, making sure the songs are good before they are weird. Take their new single “Spectres” for example, which we’re excited to premiere here today. It’s definitely weird; I mean, its video is about Wild Wild West hijinks, its music includes blast-beats, growls, breakdowns, goofy chase music sections, a soprano saxophone, and more. But it’s also an extremely well written and thought out track, as per the course for the band. The saxophone, for example, is actually composed to fit into the track and add impact to it instead of being a novelty. The aforementioned blast-beats are used sparingly to emphasize moments of building tension and momentum. Everything just works together to make a track that isn’t just there to surprise you, a track you can listen to beyond the few first times where novelty does most of the heavy lifting.
At the end of the day, this takes dedication, time, and passion, something that Cyborg Octopus seem to have in droves. Comments Ian Forsythe, the band’s vocalist:
Spectres is the “hoedown showdown” of “Between the Light and Air”. Originally dubbed “Spaghetti Western” – we wanted to combine the sounds of Western films and early Americana with our special brand of thrash and speed metal. Like our previous single “Seizure of Character” this song was in an unfinished state for years and experienced many rewrites. The band originally planned all the horns on this song to be trumpet, but we had Patrick play a soprano sax instead so we could reliably play it live. Patrick will be switching between two saxophones at our shows now that we are playing Spectres at all our upcoming shows.
Well, all that time working and re-working the track have definitely payed off, creating a great piece of music. “Spectres” comes to us from Between the Light and Air, Cyborg Octopus’s upcoming album which releases on August 26th. You can head on over here to pre-order it.