Released: 2006, Blackmarket Activities/Metal Blade
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
One of the joys of writing for a metal website is the fact that I get to hear so many different bands, from so many different styles, each vying for attention in their own unique way. Most can have parallels drawn to similar bands or styles within the first one or two tracks and all too often, the mundane nature of hearing so much material wears thin faster than on the average listener. Then there are others who defy classification, offer something unique and make a reviewer sit up, take notice and blow all conventions, expectations and pre-conceived notions right out of the water. One of those rare bands is Behold…The Arctopus.
Completely instrumental and rapt with blink-and-you-miss-them time changes, NANO-NUCLEONIC CYBORG SUMMONING is a compilation of the band’s indie material including the 2003 E.P. ARCTOPALYPSE NOW…WARMAGEDDON LATER, the original 2005 version of NANO-NUCLEONIC CYBORG SUMMONING, as well as four live tracks. Indeed, the name is utterly pretentious but after one listen to the band’s equally-pretentiously titled NANO-NUCLEONIC CYBORG SUMMONING, it becomes abundantly clear that Behold…The Arctopus earns the right to be a little pompous in their delivery. Combining fluid jazz with slow, plodding doom and ungodly progressive technical passages, NANO-NUCLEONIC CYBORG SUMMONING is like nothing I have ever heard before. Subterranean Masquerade was the last band to really dazzle me but Behold…The Arctopus ups the ante even further.
Fans of bands as diverse as Don Caballero, Primus, Dysrhythmia, Augury, Quo Vadis, Atheist and The Dillinger Escape Plan will drool all over themselves within the first minute of “Exospacial Psionic Aura.” Charlie Zeleny changes time in rapid succession, unleashing a flurry of double bass one second and segueing into a jazzy beat the next. The “warr” or touch guitar—a twelve-string beast that, according to the band’s website, is played primarily by tapping that covers the range of guitar and bass—of Colin Marston makes the sound of Behold…The Arctopus invariably unique. Marston utilizes effects pedals to slog his way through the ambient, doom-y first half of “Estrogen/Pathogen Exchange Program” but the second half of the track has more moves than a bag full of snakes, twisting and turning at a seemingly random pace. Guitarist Mike Lerner is blindingly fast during the intro to “Sensory Amusia” before a lush, ethereal space-prog middle section relaxes the listener only to be forced into submission with a devastating wall of crashing noise. “Alcoholocaust” is chaotic, progressive madness that rumbles along under the weight of Marston and Zeleny with Lerner adding skronky, technical riffs. Even the four live tracks are impressive, maybe even moreso, due to the fact that the members of Behold…The Arctopus can actually pull this stuff off live, too.
Behold…The Arctopus is definitely not a band for everyone (I’m still blown away that a label like Relapse isn’t home to them as opposed to the metalcore-heavy Metal Blade imprint, Blackmarket Activities). Many will find the rapid changes in tempo off-putting, confusing and unlistenable. There are many moments that will leave listeners scratching their heads and it can be a real mind-fuck as to where the band is going next but at the core of NANO-NUCLEONIC CYBORG SUMMONING lies a virtuosity that cannot be ignored. Played slowly, this music would be difficult to comprehend but the cheetah-on-speed pacing of most of the tracks are delivered with such incredible precision that even the most open-minded tech-head will be wowed into reverence at the feet of Behold…The Arctopus. This E.P. is amazing from start to finish and I cannot wait to hear what the band does with a full-length of new material.
KILLER KUTS: Exospacial Psionic Aura,” “Sensory Amusia,” “Alcoholocaust”