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Cauldron of Cheese - 68%

Apteronotus, June 28th, 2011

Planet Gemini’s “Cauldron of Fuzz: SiX” has the same level of quality as part six to some horror movie is likely to have. Possibly satisfying for hardcore fans, but ultimately, generic. This comparison is particularly apt, given that the fourth installation was titled: “Cauldron of Fuzz IV (The Finale).”

So, what happens two Cauldrons after the finale? Not much. We have some remarkably straightforward and average heavy metal with doom influences. If you have heard any amount of heavy or doom metal before, then listening to this album will not provide you with any new experiences or memories. The band’s own official blog provides listeners with a revealing description: “An album that was basically written and recorded within a week or so and done with a BROKEN WRIST none the less.”

Having the album done in only a week does seem entirely plausible given the lackluster songwriting. The broken wrist part however belies the fact that everything on the album is actually professionally executed.

Despite being well done, this album has a few types of cheese. Cheddar, Swiss, and I believe there may even be some Roquefort. It ends up not mattering a whole lot because the end result just comes off as supremely cheesy. Silly samples from what I assume are B horror films are dropped into the album with the same care that someone salts icy walkways in winter. There is a general purpose, but no real thought into where each piece lands.

It does not stop with the samples though, cheese continually cascades down the Cauldron. The worst part is a close tie between the trashy pentatonic melodic runs and the almost glam rock sounding tapping used in place of proper guitar solos. It does not end there, the Cauldron that is dripping with cheese is also, unsurprisingly, filled with cheese.

When a male vocalist chooses to sing particularly high notes, he will go into what we call the falsetto register. Here, Planet Gemini tangentially approaches that range, but rarely pushes through. The result is an at times irritating reminder of the glam bands of past, the most bitter of cheeses in metal.

While the vocal double tracking helps a bit, this sound merely reveals that Planet Gemini’s influences in metal are perhaps more mainstream and older than other bands in the genre. This theory comports with the almost rock-like song structures and pentatonic phrasing that appear throughout the album. The band’s conservative approach makes it so that the songs are satisfying, in so far as they are predictable.

Given that the album is well done and fairly close to metal’s tradition, it ends up being somewhat enjoyable as a whole. Though there is not a ton of replay value, the guitars have a nice and thick tone and the songs are heavy. “Cauldron of Fuzz: SiX” is perfectly suitable for background metal. There are satisfactory uses of flange effects, appropriate drumming techniques, and consistent songs. Yet the songs are consistent to the point where it almost becomes a chore to carefully listen to at times.

Take “To Conjur the Silver Sunset” as an example. A bar or two of music before the solo, which is several minutes into the song, and the listener has genuine cause to be frustrated. Luckily, the song works as a representative sample for “Cauldron of Fuzz: SiX” and a fine solo pops on in to keep things interesting. But even in that moment, the solo is only enough to maintain momentum in the same way that an obese person may cross the finish line of a race and still be no where near first place. Still, some momentum is there and that deserves some credit.

The best song on here is probably “The Offering.” The interplay between basic strumming and slow crushing riffs works perfectly for the band’s style. Even here though, the lyrics still come off as something a person who hates metal would write as a parody. Planet Gemini rises above this deficiency through spot on vocal work. Even though the moment is fleeting, those mostly irritating vocals fit perfectly with the song and everything briefly fits together.

Next time you are walking through a crowded street and see a caricature artist, contemplate whether that person could draw something genuinely wonderful if they sat down and put more than a hour or so into their work. For now, we are stuck with similar speculations about Planet Gemini taking more than a week to write this album.

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