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(50:14. Lizard Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. A Melody Soft and Lazy 1:49 2. Inches 12:37 3. Miles 11:07 4. Steps 2:25 5. Dirty Sanchez 7:47 6. Z'Opho'Phi'A 5:58 7. Carosello 1:59 8. Lucifer Rising on Ciudad Juarez 6:34 LINEUP: Tommaso Dringoli – guitars; vocals; percussion Filippo Ferrari – bass; vocals; electronics Matteo Salutari – drums; electronics Davide Yannucini – electronics; sax
Prolusion. Although bearing the name of THE BAD MEXICAN (TBM from now on), the hero of this occasion is an Italian outfit. Things are much less complicated as regards the nature – or status, if you will – of the recording it presents, “This is the First Attempt of the Band Called The Bad Mexican”.
Analysis. This 50-minute album is highly varied in style, but four of its eight tracks, Steps, Inches, Dirty Sanchez and Z'Opho'Phi'A, running for almost 30 minutes, have enough in common between themselves to be sorted out as ones that form its prevailing musical palette or even musical nucleus of a sort. At first it may seem that, with their aggressive guitar riffs, fat bass lines and melodic guitar leads that trace their lineage back to bands like their compatriots Garden Wall, and also Sieges Even, King Diamond, Tool and even Primus in some cases, these musicians don’t break any of the prog-metal conventions established during the 35 years of the genre’s existence. However, none of the pieces are retro rehashes. Each of them additionally deploys electronic devices, doing so in a rather original as well as diverse way, now blending corresponding textures with hard-edged, guitar riffs-driven arrangements – particularly often on Steps, which sounds heavy almost throughout, now with space-rock ones, in the manner of mid-‘90s Porcupine Tree, such as on Z'Opho'Phi'A, and more. For instance, Inches (12:37, the album’s longest track, arguably its highlight) contains a section which is made up of sounds of real instruments and electronic effects. It immediately brings to mind ‘The Waiting Room’ from Genesis’s “The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway”, albeit, while that composition assumes the shape of totally cohesive music closer to its end, this one always remains turbulent, quasi-chaotic in nature, which is a positive factor, to my mind. Dirty Sanchez has a kind of electro-symphonic art-rock move among others, while the piece’s finale involves electronics that imitate brass instruments whose ‘playing’ has a distinct Spanish or, rather, Latin-American feel to it. That the Italians are innovative and conventional at once is their advantage, because it’s easy to imagine prog-metal fans listening to these compositions and hearing elements they like, from time to time discovering something new as well. Another thing that sets TBM apart from many of their other contemporaries is that the sections referring to one or another style are normally rather short, but while it might seem the band doesn't spend enough time on exploring each of them separately, it does so in all cases as a matter of fact – a bit more than necessary within the aforesaid move on Z'Opho'Phi'A. However, all of this is only typical of the described compositions, whereas one of the others, Miles (11:07, the second long track here), on which the group re-enters ‘The Waiting Room’ again, finds it busy with eliciting various effects almost throughout. The remaining three pieces, A Melody Soft and Lazy, Carosello and Lucifer Rising on Ciudad Juarez, all sound radically different from any of the four described first, albeit the former two items (the first and the next-to-last track here, respectively, none exceeding two minutes in length) are very similar. Suggesting dark ambient music, both of them sound much the same way as synth-based cuts from King Diamond’s concept albums do, particularly the disc opener which, with its dialog between what appear as two whispering ghosts, is almost not unlike the intro to “Them”. As you can see above, two of the band members provide vocals; one of them appears as a traditional rock singer, whilst the other as a more versatile one, at times bordering on screaming when singing. If they had sung as a duo, the album’s overall vocal palette would’ve been closer to King Diamond’s. Sadly, they never sing together, on the same song. Back to the album: the band should have finished it with the latter of the cuts. Then its running time would have shortened by about 7 minutes, but it would have sounded a lot more cohesive as well as logical than it is, because its real concluding piece, Lucifer Rising on Ciudad Juarez, is nothing other than a makeweight. In fact, this is a really stupid, meaningless, heavily annoying thing, during the first half of which a man breathes noisily through his nose synchronously to a monotonous electronic beat, later on boringly mumbling, repeating the same set of words to the beats of drums. It’s like making a hat and then pooping into it before selling it.
Conclusion. Albeit the music is somewhat simpler than most of the classic prog-metal bands, everything is all right with respect to the density, rhythmic variety or other aspects of the arrangements, the band certainly competent at playing what they have written. Recommended; only exclude the last track when playing the album (whose rating has been lowered just because of its presence).
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