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Better, but waaaaay too short - 68%

MikeyC, March 26th, 2009

After just a solitary year from their previous effort Discomfort, Antigama have returned with a new full-length album behind them titled Zeroland. Oh, wait, did I say “full-length”? Hmm, I should add that this so-called “full-length” is actually an EP in disguise. I’ll explain why later, but from a musical point of view, this is pretty much the album where Antigama gets their shit together, after the haphazard cut-paste style that was Discomfort. Here, they utilise more accessible death/grind, which is sure to please additional people.

When I say accessible, I don’t mean they’ve sold out and have gone down the mainstream. I just mean that the songwriting has taken a step into positive territory, and each song now has some sort of identity. Even devoid of the sort of intensity conveyed on their previous album, Zeroland is still definitely a grind album. “Sorry” is a much slower song than the other ones, yet still retains that grind influence throughout. While that song is fairly repetitive, it’s not too bad in the context of the album and has plenty of redeeming qualities. Faster songs such as “Seed” are still present, yet this time, it all flows a little nicer. This aspect could be due to the improved production values, too, but most of the credit must be given to the better songwriting skills of the band members.

One thing they used here, which they have subsequently ditched immediately after, is the use of cleaner vocals around. These are mostly used on “The View,” which is, coincidentally or not, my favourite track on the album. These vocals are, to my ears, almost “hovering” over the stop/start riffing behind it. I think this was a really nice addition to the album, and I feel it gives it a slight avant-garde edge to it, which is definitely not a bad thing. They crop up again on “Wounded Butterfly” and “Izaak.” It would’ve been splendid if they used them again on Resonance and Warning, but it was not to be.

The vocalist sounds a lot better here than he did previously. Maybe the improved production and songwriting has benefited him, too, even though he does get incomprehensible a little on “Jazzy.”

Now, the glaring problem with this release is its length. There are 9 songs, and the whole album goes for 24 minutes. We have to take off the song “Starshit,” because that’s a filler, and we’re left with roughly 22 minutes. Now take off the 9-minute title track, because that’s nothing more than what sounds like radio chatter over other different sounds, and you’re left with 13 minutes. 13 minutes of music. No matter how you slice it, that is a poor result. Personally, I don’t mind the track “Zeroland,” but I would’ve much rather have them add, I don’t know, 3-5 extra normal songs, so to give the album decent running time. Maybe this is an EP, but Antigama decided to add a fairly pointless outro, and pass it off as a full-length. Hell, even with all the songs included, 24 minutes is still short enough for an EP. Whether this shortened length was due to time constraints or a ridiculous oversight will never be known, but I hope they keep all subsequent albums running at a respectable length.

Anyway, with that problem out of the way, Zeroland does have a fair amount of good, and is the beginning of the new, improved Antigama, in my opinion. The following two albums are much better, but if you’re into this band, and you see this release for a good price, you’d be wise to pick it up, but don’t expect a lot of bang for your buck.