Released: 2001, Progressive Darkwave
I heard about Braindance ages ago. In a very short-sighted and regrettable move I assigned them lower priority to listen to. “Cheap Annihilator clone…”, I muttered to myself basing that erroneous assumption on the name of the band alone and the comic book style of the cover. “I’ll get to them later.” I figured. How wrong I was…but better late than never.
This band is fucked up. And I mean that the most sincerest and highest form of a compliment! I heard the recent hype, contacted the band and they were kind enough to send me a copy of their third release, and it is seriously and totally fucked up! This band is utterly brilliant and upon one listen I knew they were something very special.
Braindance cannot be easily described or labeled which is part of their magic. For those of you who seek originality, your brain will dance! Be warned this is NOT a traditional “wind-in-my-hair, with my fist-in-the-air, while I blast across America on my Harley with a half-naked chick on the back seat, chugging a beer” type metal band. No sir.
Braindance describe themselves as progressive darkwave which is an odd term but suitable I suppose. They are much more heavy than the term darkwave would have you believe, so don’t let it worry you.
The image is freaky as well so lets get that out of the way before we describe the actual music. The band has two people. Vora Vor is a fairly hot chick in black who is responsible for “Guitars, backing vocals, ambience & programming, persuasion, rumour & manipulation, bitterness, hostility and astonishment” A great resume! Her partner is Sebastion Elliot. This guy looks like a short-haired reject from Crimson Glory (Silver Mask era) and could be a Calvin Klein underwear model. The guy is ripped and looks like a wrestler! He is in charge of “ Double-edged Throat & unmentioned vocal processes, propaganda, hearsay & misinformation, animosity, belligerence & loathing.” All excellent qualities. Three session musicians fill out the recording with bass, drums, viola, violin and keyboards.
The packaging is brilliant. How much did that reflective silver ink cost I wonder? It is a 5 panel fold out with photos, lyrics, notes and a very cool dark purple, silver and black colour scheme. The cover is a cool, cartoon-ish demon guy at an altar of sorts in a cave surrounded by his evil, little troll minions. Much of their art is done by the guy who does the Witchblade comic series. Awesome, very well done as are the covers of their other 2 CD’s. Each song title starts with the pre-fix “re”, a nice touch.
But what about the music?! Many bands hide lack of talent behind image, hype and clever packaging. Braindance don’t have to rely on these extras because musically they are really, really, really… good. (Where’s that damn Theasaurus?)
The opening cut “Refracture” opens with a sample from a Simpsons episode with a spoken intro from Kodos the Alien! Every song has many, many diverse elements. There are blazing guitar solos, pounding drums, long dreamy interludes, and lots of bizarre samples. In fact the cut “Reduction” is three straight minutes of samples from popular entertainment and media. Sounds weird but they are put together in such a way it is captivating and makes sense. Samples include the voices of Apu (Simpsons) James Earl Jones, the Emperor (Star Wars) and many, many more. I listened to this song over and over enjoying the challenge of figuring out what sample was what.
Despite all the weirdness contained within…the songs all very strong. Some songs may dip into a Euro-dance style beat a little too often for the tastes of heavier fans, but here are songs where you swear you are listening to a solo and melody from a Fates Warning song! If I had to peg the vocal style of Sebastian to one readily identifiable style it would be the godly and majestic voice of Peter Steele of Type O Negative. Their influences all over the musical map…Malmsteen, Fear Factory, Type O, Dream Theater, Kiss, Primus, choirs, samples, maybe a touch of Andrew Lloyd Weber… it’s all there!! What an amazing band. They manage to throw all this into a pile and it works. I heard this for the first time on Dec 31st, 2001. I almost never listen to a CD back to back, twice in a row but I did with Braindance. I’m seriously considering putting it in my Top 10 for 2001. Easily the most interesting and unique album of the year. Check them out at http://www.progressivedarkwave.com