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(53:29, MALS Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Geistly Suite 7:51 2. Importance 7:34 3. Fallen Tiger 6:53 4. Things Unsaid 5:14 5. Odessa 5:44 6. Angelus Novasaum 7:26 7. When the Fog Clears 6:01 8. Midnight 6:43 LINEUP: Gregg Johns guitars, bass; keyboards; vocals Todd Sears drums; keyboards; vocals Ceci Whitehurst vocals Clay Pell bass With: Jeff Hamel guitars Bridget Shield vocals Michael Fortenberry trumpet
Prolusion. The US outfit SLYCHOSIS was formed in 2004, and while initially based around the compositional ideas of main man Greg Johns it would appear that the last few years have seen this project develop towards a more true-to-life band format, with the others members chiming in with their ideas in both the lyrics and music departments. "Mental Hygiene" is their third full-length production, and was issued by the Russian label MALS Records in 2010.
Analysis. Slychosis is a band that cites a diverse range of influences, from Camel and Genesis to Gong and Hawkwind as well as Black Sabbath, to name but a few. And unlike many other artists that imply a wide and varied range of influences, this is a band that puts their money where their mouth is. Diversity in stylistic expressions is something of a key feature on their latest excursion, and not limited to mere arrangements, as the compositional structures and choices also bear witness to a band that aims to cover a lot of musical ground. When that is said, it wouldn't be fair to label Slychosis as a true-to-life eclectic unit, at least not in a manner that dedicated fans of progressive rock would subscribe too, mostly due to this being a band exploring the outer edges of the art rock realm, and in this case the one bordering mainstream-oriented music. In other words, this isn't eclectic in the manner of Frank Zappa, but more akin to the diversity of acts like Faith No More. Without any comparisons in direct musical style however, the similarity in this case is one of diversity and musical complexity rather than stylistic expression and quality of output as such. And from the quirky excesses of opening effort Geistly Suite, combining symphonic and progressive metal aspects in an inventive manner, to the more straightforward hard rock of final effort Midnight, Slychosis do take their listeners on a journey into rather unpredictable territories this time around. Second track Importance and third effort Fallen Tiger were the creations that impressed me most however, both of them with something of a foundation in symphonic art rock, the latter also sporting the neat inclusion of space rock-oriented effects that work rather well. The following Things Unsaid is perhaps the most innovative effort at hand, taking what appears to be a folk-based tune and transforming it into a relatively straight forward pomp rock creation by way of the arrangements and instrumentation utilized. Fans of Neo-Prog and later-day Pink Floyd should find the second half of this album catering more to their interests, at least as far as moods and overall arrangements go. Personally I'm not too obsessed with the complexity level of the music I listen to, I have to admit. But in this case I have one slight misgiving in that department, namely the drums. This is a case of personal taste obviously, and as far as my perceptions go I think this album would have been a more interesting experience with a somewhat more intricate approach in that department. A second point I noted was the production, which to my ears appeared slightly less than state-of-the-art. I found myself associating the overall sound with mid-80's metal bands released on indie labels at the time, such as Black Dragon Records (if anyone remember that rather obscure French label). Both of these negative aspects are very much of a personal nature, to emphasize that again, but those obsessed with drums and production quality respectively might find these personal impressions to be useful. On the opposite part of the scale a special mention is merited for guest vocalist Bridget Shield. Those fond of soul-filled, high-quality lead vocals should find her contribution to final track Midnight to be well worth experiencing.
Conclusion. On "Mental Hygiene" Slychosis explores a rather varied musical landscape, with something of a basis in symphonic art rock of the less complex variety, and initial effort Geistly Suite arguably the most true-to-life progressive escapade. I'd suspect that fans of neo-progressive rock might be a key audience for this act, even if that expression in itself isn't covered to any great extent: This due to Slychosis venturing off into progressive metal, pomp rock and hard rock territories frequently, and as many neo acts have a similar approach I suspect this crowd might be one who'll find it easiest to enjoy a stylistic diversity of this nature.
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