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I've been preparing to write a review for this album since I got it early October this year, and I find myself just as baffled as when I first listened to it. This has to be the strangest album in my collection. Classifying it into any one genre would be impossible and foolish (unless we call the genre Voivod), but that's not even the half of it! It has punk(ish) vocals, industrial-like dissonant guitar progressions, TONS of loud, distorted bass, and some of the most imaginative lyrics of any metal album from its respective, or really any, era. Structurally, the album is more of a '70s prog/psychedelic piece that hardly clears up any of the already numerous amounts of WTF!?s already in my head.
I'll start by commenting on the one thing I can be absolutely sure of - the packaging. The artwork is completely awesome with corresponding pictures that go along with each song. All of the pictures are done by the drummer, Away, and have that modern surrealist touch blended perfectly with the dystopian, sci-fi aesthetic. My favourite is probably the picture for Into My Hypercube; I just love the chill robot dude sitting in a box. If you have the poster insert pressing like I do, the artwork folds out with the lyrics, credits, and all of the awesome artwork on one side and a sweet band poster on the other. If you've read any of my other reviews, you know I'm not one to dedicate time to the packaging, but not only is the packaging here great, but I have no clue where else to start.
I suppose I can discuss the production. If you love bass like me, then this is the type of mixing you like to hear. It is LOUD. REALLY LOUD. And it is AWESOME. It just thunders over the rest of the instruments (not in a suffocating 'where the hell are the other instruments'-type of way) in all its popping, distorted glory. The rhythm section is dominated by the bass's power and is the primary reason why this album's production is just as crazy as everything else about it. The guitars are more of a atmospheric driving force, providing dissonant harmony in the background or creating soft atmosphere rather then being the wailing solo juggernaut as is the norm. Piggy has always been a unique guitar player, but on this album he abandons essentially all thrash norms and writes his own weird book on how to play the strings.
The drums are pretty low in the mix and while listening are scarcely my focus, but that is not to say they are poor in any way because Away is a rhythm master. Plenty of nice fills and no long, boringly simple patterns, just great drumming. Snake's vocals tend to be a factor of dissent, but I will always defend the man. His punk vocal aesthetic mixed with a psychedelic softness fit perfectly with his bizarre lyrics, and though there are no crazy King Diamond-esque acrobatics, the vocals are great and an important part of the album. Songs like The Unknown Knows, Pre-Ignition, Nothingface, and Into My Hypercube I find particularly rapturing, but the whole album is listened to beginning to end whenever I listen to any of it.
But all of this rambling are just my guesses. This album is so so so odd, that I honestly am not sure. Seriously, I have no score in the box right now, but as I sit here trying to think of a flaw, a poor song, an overly-long passage, bad vocal lines, ANYTHING.... I just can't. Whenever I listen to this album, I push play and listen until the end, lost in its deep musical labyrinth of craziness where nothing really makes sense and you don't want it to. Perhaps that's what this album is supposed to be. It's Nothingface. It isn't trying to be anything else. It was the blending of Snake's odd vocals, Away's bizarre artwork, Blacky's atomic bass, and Piggy's celestial guitar atmosphere with lyrics that I will be reading when I'm 70. You know what? I'll be revisiting this album when I'm 90! I may never fully understand it, but goddamn, do I love it. Fuck it. Perfect score or a five out of five.
All of it,
None of it
I don't fucking know.
Just buy it
Listen to it
And choose for yourself.