Register Forgot login?

© 2002-2019
Encyclopaedia Metallum

Best viewed
without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
or higher.

Privacy Policy

Oriental round blocks through a square metal hole - 17%

Napero, February 5th, 2007

Metal can be a cruel master, or a tender, forgiving mistress. Even less talented musicians can play enjoyable gigs, if they can keep their ambition within bounds and attempt only what they actually can do. On the other hand, even skilled players can be tempted to the perilous path of trying too much, and the results can be simply awful. On this EP, Gaia bites a piece seven sizes too big and almost chokes.

The band's own MySpace's three-word genre classification is "Metal / Jazz / Progressive". The sample tracks from their newer album, Praxis, are much, much better than any of those on The Final Question, and maybe hint at what the band was trying to achieve there. The somehow orientalish melodies, the basically nice but perhaps too soft clean female vocals, the surprisingly complex guitar work on the background, and the jazzily senseless drums and atmospheric overall mood are indeed listenable, if not actually enjoyable. The clear production makes the music workable, if only partially metal, and while it certainly isn't my cup of tea with its forced progressiveness, the band at least sounds the way they probably intended.

Not so on The Final Question. No. The EP is a bag of horrors. Occasional parts work very well, but the big problem here is simply the fact that the band's State of Nevada-sized ambition made promises its skill couldn't cash yet. They stuff too many things into their songs. Way too many...

The first ingredient, of course, is metal. There's some nice riffing occasionally, but the guitars are drowned to the background, and their sound is nerdish. If there's one rule, applicable to each and every sub-genre of metal, it is quite simple: timid guitars spell disaster. At least they do here. The metal part has been neutered, and the lack of gonads is tragic.

The second thing, jazz. It's very difficult to set apart the things that actually make parts of The Final Question jazzy, except for the hi-hat centered, sometimes probably syncopated drumming; it's difficult to tell if there's real syncopation, really. But, by Satan's mom, they sound so out of place here. Maybe, with different production, they could work in some other kind of music, but when shoved onto the same track with metallish guitars and produced with too little low frequencies, they sound simply like the annoying 1/16th clicking they indeed are.

Third, progression. The new, progressive element fits into the already crowded mix of metal and jazz like a Chevy Van into an outhouse. The instrumentalists try hard: they play, innovate, even wank all they can, but the constraints are already too strickt, and they have no room for their acrobatics. All their efforts do is to bruise each other and maul the whole deeper into the mess. The progressiveness shatters, and bits and pieces of it fall on the road, left on the wake as separate entities, leftovers and spills from a plate stuffed too full of everything by a greedy, chubby kid from the musical smörgåsbord.

Last, the "world music" part. OK, metal and jazz can be combined, and even progressive parts can be fitted in the contraption, but this is where the barrel finally overflows and bursts. The target has probably been to introduce an oriental atmosphere by using clean, wailing female vocals and some other elements from world music. But combined with everything else, the whole turns chaotic, and all salvage attempts are lost. Too complicated, too many elements.

The whole mess has been tied into a single, overflowing bundle by very inept production. The annoying clicking of the drums, the neutered guitars, wailing, parts of clean guitar, piano, some odd percussions, and a clean, jazz-sounding and possibly half-acoustic guitar are like pieces from different puzzles. They do not fit together, no matter how hard you try, and the producer has been forced to use the ancient method employed by generations of brute-force jigsaw solvers: scissors and a hammer. Everything has been forced onto the tracks with threats of violence and uncaring authority, and the vocals, for example, sound like a separate layer above everything else, remaining out of contact with the rest of the songs.

As a final nail into the casket, the band failed at self-criticism. The most awful parts of the songs are the polyphonic choruses in the songs. They simply do not work. Not even close. Especially on the second track, the choruses sound unbelievably horrible. They are actually so bad that it's very difficult to see what they were attempting.

There are good points. They manifest on the few parts that have not been force-fed like french Foie gras ducks. The guitarists know how to play. The bassist is actually good. Even the vocalist could well work in a gothic metal band, after a bit of practice. But for the most of the time, everything is being drowned by everything else. Chaos ensues, the parts trample each other to death, and the doors of the gas chamber are being forced shut... oh, the horror!

The lesson here: be critical of your own works. Also, be critical of your friends' works and tell them to stop when they are about to embarrass themselves. This EP should never have been released. No band should never get signed with a demo or self-released EP like this. Take a look at your own works, and make sure you can be proud of them before handing out a single copy. Gaia may be ready to do what it intended here now, and Praxis may well be a good album, but The Final Question fails, and it does it so painfully that it makes even a casual listener uncomfortable. Avoid!