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Dot dot dot - 58%

zeingard, December 18th, 2013

The shortest song on this type of album is always something of an anomaly; they are often transition pieces, or perhaps they are a more conventional song that acts as an outlet and representation of what genre the band base their expanded sound on. Very rarely they are an attempt at a single. "A Pitcher of Summer" is complete and utter garbage; a banal juxtaposition of acoustic guitars and amorphous heavy riffs, complimented by irrelevant brass instruments and a truly hideous vocal performance. If you are going to listen to 'Choirs of the Eye' just skip this song.

Outside of "Pitcher of Summer", these songs are defined by their ability to adeptly transition between disparate styles in an effortless fashion. It certainly helps that Kayo Dot do not just violently mash clashing styles against one another, instead choosing to appropriately handle the transition depending on the needs of the song. "The Manifold Curiosity" is at heart a post-metal song with clearly defined peaks and troughs, the only bizarre features being the reliance on acoustic guitar and violin during the traditionally subdued sections, and a decent flute solo complimenting the first peak in aggression. The song is less about piling on riffs and distortion until they burst, the typical tension and release, but evokes the atmosphere of an overcast day erupting into a monstrous storm. The obscured poetry reading is rather tedious and could probably be dropped.

Fortunately they never try to replicate "The Manifold Curiosity" a few times and call it a day but they never come close to achieving that harmonious combination of coherent, recognisable song structures with unorthodox instrumentation or interpretation. For the majority of its running time "Wayfarer" is a listless mix of acoustic guitars, violins and floating female vocals like a poor facsimile of early Dead Can Dance; their only attempts at divergence come from two short lived bursts of crunching and squealing guitars. "Marathon" feels like it was composed from a mess of left over ideas and pieces that the band were reluctant to abandon. They're thrown them together into this convoluted collage, and while each section is well performed their relation to one another is tenuous and there's no satisfying conclusion.

With "The Antique" the album kind of slumps into a chair exhausted, so bereft of ideas Kayo Dot simply stick a heavy and quiet section together; 'Choirs of the Eye' modus operandi distilled into a fifteen minute song. It would be asinine to accuse them of being formulaic but this album is not challenging; the song structures, riffs and melodies are surprisingly palatable to the point of being unmemorable. From a metal perspective none of the riffs are unique or interesting either which leaves the album in a weird position; well-written and unique instrumentation used to produce a bloated album of average songs.

'Choirs of the Eye' is a very unique album, but with the band never excelling in any particular category and the obscene song lengths, it's a significant time investment with atrocious returns.