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Marmite Metal - 60%

cetacean, March 19th, 2017
Written based on this version: 2013, Digital, Independent

I feel like I owe this album a review, if only because I mentioned it tangentially in another review and had only bad things to say, despite the fact that I enjoyed it upon first listen and still do, in spite of its challenges.

As far as actual compositions go, most of the material in here is vintage !T.O.O.H.!, albeit marred by a noticeable decline in songwriting quality. Tracks like "Prбvo" and especially "Kokarda pэchy," (the latter one of the most menacingly melodic songs I've heard in a long time) wouldn't have seemed out of place on Řád A Trest, had they also benefited from the same production and performance practices. However the bulk of the album is occupied by weak material. "Demokratickй шeљenн" and "Marљ pucfleku!" have interesting moments, but they come buried in a LOT of slower music that is either cringeworthy or (more often) boring. The three "older" songs re-recorded in the band's "new" style, though inferior to the originals, are the most solid tunes on the album for what it's worth. The remaining metal tracks are forgettable, "Lizzie" is an interesting clean interlude and the untitled "instrumental" song (a shooter-styled video game soundtrack in 6/8) is probably best listened to first to set the stage for the weirdness that is to come.

If it seems like I'm dancing around the production and overall sound that characterizes this album it's because the matter deserves at least a paragraph unto itself. This album is very avant garde in the sense that the musicians appear to have chosen ugliness over beauty every time the choice presented itself, self-consciously taking every opportunity to destroy the album as thoroughly as possible. Production-wise, this attitude manifests itself in the barely recognizable and unnatural guitar tone that sounds like the dry signal from a cheap distortion pedal before reamping (though an extant YouTube video shows the band doing a creditable job of recreating the sound live so there may be more complexity at play). The bass and keyboards are equally synthetic, only moreso because they are literally synthesized - both sounding like patches ripped from a SNES cartridge. And the drums are replaced with very cheap and low-quality samples with no differentiation (i.e. a single sample for the snare, a single kick drum, etc.) defeating any chance of them sounding like an actual instrument. And of course the vocals are this weird folksy sing-songy sort of Sprechgesang consisting mostly of first- and second-takes (one track ends with a terrible high note and audible laughter in the background just before the sound cuts out).

The really amazing thing about this album is that any of it succeeds at all despite looking like such a car wreck on paper (and sounding like one at first listen, if I'm honest). With the possible exception of Necrophagist, I can't think of any other band who could have contrived to make so much genuinely good music out of such bat-shit crazy sonic material. And so the inevitable disappointment comes when it does, ironically, not from the sound of the album but from the songs on it not being very good. Granted the band took the worst possible sound and ran pretty far with it, which deserves some credit, but at the end of the day they've still produced an LP containing two good songs, three covers, and a lot of skip-bait.