Released: 2005, The End Records
Reviewer: Gabriel C. Zolman
Any attempts at trying to understand this based upon the packaging alone is fruitless, and destined towards a horrible failure.
Just strap on a pair of decent headphones, and give this one a whirl.
It is best described as "Progressive Metal," but not in the Inside-Out meaning of the term. This isn't Evergray or Platitude. This is something altogether different, not that dissimilar in spirit from Lost Horizon or Sculptured--but not in approach. Frantic Bleep sounds nothing like either of those bands...but it captures the spirit of a "progressive"-but-not-Prog band out to create something original in a genre not exactly bulging with excess artists of the sort.
A track like "Sins Of Omission," with its classic Metal riffs amid Eastern melodies and modern Hard Music elements, is exemplery of what the band frequently achieves with scarcely trying: it's original, yet familiar all at once.
The guitarwork has a European quality to it, in the way it is frequently arranged, and the references in the playing. There are some modern American elements as well--but to name what comes to mind would likely be a disservice to the band; thus I digress.
Vocally, this is clean but not high-pitched. Paul Bjorke isn't Ripper Owens, and never tries to be--yet one distinctly gets the feeling that he could easily reach those hights with little effort. Paul is all about "tasteful." The vocals are never dry or dull, but they never leave the stratosphere, a la overwrought queens like James LaBrie (Dream Theater) or Eric Clayton (Saviour Machine). The opening track, "A Survey" is an excellent example of the value that the band places on control, whereas "The Expulsion" shows off Bjorke's range (sadly, one of his few missteps are here--in a confused moment, he attempts a distorted Black Metal rasp, that sounds more akin to Popeye than Attila Csihar. Thankfully, the moment is brief, as soon forgotten).
"Mausolos" sounds like a newer Judas Priest track--the vocal melody sounding like some of "Cathedral Spires" more grounded moments.
While it is, for sure, original and different--it isn't "weird." This is Metal, and straight-ahead Metal, at that. Despite its myriad textures and frequent inventiveness, this is At times atmospheric, and at times tempermental, this isn't some jazz-prog Metal-core thing. It has nothing to do with that. This is experimental and metallic, but it is not "Experimental Metal."
There is little, really, to compare this too. In this, the band succeeds. The heaviness is there, yet it at times falls victim to its own penchant for textures. There are times the band overreaches; but these times are few and far between. Perhaps recommendable to fans of Mercenary or a less morose Nevermore, Frantic Bleep will undoubtedly hit the spot for those looking for something original, unusual, but not disorganized or bizarre.