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!!!!! - 100%

capeda, October 19th, 2003

Well god dammit! After hearing this album, every other album in my collection is going to drop a few notches in the enjoyability scale... Choirs of the Eye redefines my, uh, definition of "perfect." This is a *tremendous* work of sonic art, and it is indeed the best album I've heard this year. Perhaps it has the potential to be the best album of the decade or the past two centuries? Well, that's pure speculation on my part... but I can say this is a flawless, progressive, experimental masterpiece.

I kinda feel a bit awkward reviewing this album on a metal database, as this is NOT a heavy metal album. It sounds like Esoteric or Skepticism at times (super massive awesome doomy heavy), and there is plenty of screaming and growling... but the music journeys through a myriad of different moods, and there are only a handul of guitar parts that can be construed as *metallic* riffs. Even when the band is at their most violent, it transcends any subgenre under the heavy metal umbrella.

Band comparisons? Yeah right. The absolute closest relationship I came up with while listening to this album (for the seventh or eigth time through) was "In the Court of the Crimson King" (King Crimson) meets "Metamorphogenesis" (Esoteric). I personally doubt anyone would agree with this description. I've heard another person describe this album as "Jeff Buckley + Sigur Ros + Isis + the Boston Philharmonic = Kayo Dot"... it all depends on the person hearing it. Individuals are BOUND to comprehend this mass of sound *individually*.

Instruments listed? Guitar, cello, doube-bass, bells, electronics, flute, clarinet, alto sax, various keyboards, french horn, trombone, violin and viola, trumpet, and even a camera (...). There is LOTS of music going on at all times. Sometimes there will be 4 guitars playing non-parallel noisy lines creating giant walls of sound, and at other times it will be a solitary droning keyboard. The mixing job is awesome, though, so if you listen to this album on headphones (and you have a good set of ears), you can carefully listen to each individual instrument track, loud or subtle. As for the instrumental performance on this album... it's flawless, I think. Whereas on maudlin of the Well's last double release (Bath/Leaving Your Body Map) the instruments were very loose and kind of sloppy at times, Choirs of the Eye is VERY tight where it needs to be tight, and loose where necessary.

The vocal performance is quite effective. Toby Driver is the main vocalist, as far as I know, and he sings quite emotionally at points, sometimes creepily, and sometimes screams more viciously than most grindcore front-men. All five of the main band members perform vocal duty, though. During the massive, dense sections, nearly everyone is supplying growls and screams to add to the textures. At some points, the lyrics are poetically read off over the music, and it always works. The vocals, just to reaffirm, are VERY effective.

Bottom line: If you're a fan of experimental music, long dynamic songs, and are tolerant of extreme vocals, pick this up immediately. I have yet to hear a body of music sound remotely similar to this, and I've heard very little music that sounds half as well-composed. I haven't been this excited over an album in years. Mind-blowing, AWESOME music. Album of the year. That is all.