Even if after several spins of Brain Tentacles jazz/doom/grind/avante-garde debut Brain Tentacles you still have no idea what’s going on there is little doubt you’ll be humming the rhythms and bass lines for days afterwards. This band is a power trio that doesn’t act like a power trio, rather they act like a metal version of a jam band that took a triple hit of acid and listened to Miles Davis or Ornette Coleman for way too long. This, of course, is a compliment as they triumphantly venture into a niche that very few have ever done successfully.
This trio consists of Bruce Lamont (Yakuza, Bloodiest, Corrections House), Dave Witte (Discordance Axis, Municipal Waste, etc.) and Aaron Dallison (Keelhaul) so the term power trio, supergroup if you must, has some definitive meaning to it. Plus with the discography and experience behind these three members it should come as no surprise to hear the direction this debut takes. If you’re expecting grinding guitars and blast beats you’ll be disappointed but if experimental and just plain wacky songwriting in the vein of Primus and Zappa sounds interesting this album will be your new favorite.
The first half may initially come off as improvisational but deeper scrutiny shows a very structured affair. Lamont’s sax and Dallison’s bass lines are a huge focal point while Witte keeps things moving along at a hectic clip. His drumming is the glue that holds the whole album together without ever over doing it or over playing. The lighthearted, playful nature beginning with the robust opener “Kingda Ka” (particularly the lurching yet comical opening of “Hand Of God”) to the insane vocals from Eugene Robinson in “Gassed” is, in a word, unforgettable. One spin is all it takes for this combination of jam, jazz and psych-rock to take hold and have you humming these tunes over and over ad infinitum.
“The Spoiler” is the first real metal moment of the album with guttural yells puncturing the otherwise jangly marching band rhythms. “The Sadist” rises to John Zorn’s Naked City level of anxiety inducing jazz-grind and “Fata Morgana” would fit neatly into a horror movie soundtrack with it’s slow burn atmosphere. All of this may sound strange and weird but that seems to be the point and it all works extremely well. The album’s success lies in the fact that you don’t ever want it to end. It’s addictive, strange, catchy and memorable all at the same time.
Brain Tentacles self-titled debut is a cacophony of sounds that on paper shouldn’t work but the results are exemplary. The warm sound of Sanford Parker’s production gives this album the feel of three old friends getting together for an extended jam session. Even at the album’s harshest the fun factor never wanes and really what more could you ask for in an album that exists far off the beaten path of standard fare metal. This is an impressive debut from an impressive trio of musicians.