6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Staggering
Their previous release, "Ideas of Reference", readily established Psyopus as one of the premier tech-metal bands on the planet, and Chris Arp as one of the most unique and astounding metal-guitarists around. Now we have "Our Puzzling Encounters Considered", which is even better, topping it on all fronts with more memorable, distinguishable songs, better, more varied...
Published on February 25, 2007 by General Zombie
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Technically impressive but emotionally unsatisfying
I'm a big fan of "math/tech" metal bands such as the locust, dillinger, etc. and I liked this bands first CD a lot. Chris Arp is a god, the drummer sounds like he's hitting 100 things a second, the musicianship is definitely there, but the songwriting isn't. It sounds like they took the "rock" out of "math rock". I'm not saying they need to follow conventional...
Published on December 30, 2008 by Steven M. Balistreri
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Staggering,
This review is from: Our Puzzling Encounters Considered (Audio CD)Their previous release, "Ideas of Reference", readily established Psyopus as one of the premier tech-metal bands on the planet, and Chris Arp as one of the most unique and astounding metal-guitarists around. Now we have "Our Puzzling Encounters Considered", which is even better, topping it on all fronts with more memorable, distinguishable songs, better, more varied vocals and even more incredible musicianship. Suffice to say, no fan of tech-metal should hesitate for a single second before buying this.
Psyopus is all about the guitar, and Chris Arp is a guitarist like no other. There are plenty of lightning-fingered guitarists in the metal world today, and many of them are pretty interchangeable, but you only need to listen any Psyopus song for a few seconds to identify Arp. He eschews the typical Neoclassical runs in favor of an inexplicable barrage of jagged and atonal jazz licks augmented with a endless hammering, tapping, pull offs, sliding, use of the tremolo arm and numerous other techniques all of which are run through a dizzying array of endlessly changing, complex rhythms. Most staggeringly, he applies these methods to the so-called rhythm parts, though he does mix in plenty of more typical, angular tech-metal riffing a la The Dillinger Escape Plan. The other instruments are certainly incredibly impressive as well particularly the frenetic and blasting jazz/metal fusion drumming, but they're almost inevitably in the supporting role. The vocals are standard 'core style howling, though I think they're a bit more varied and memorable this time around.
Most impressively, "Our Puzzling Encounters Considered" actually contains songs which can be distinguished from one another. That said, I'm gonna spend much time considering the individual tracks, since I don't think I'm capable of describing them with sufficient detail to make them sound different on paper, but I, nevertheless, still can view this as a collection of tracks rather than just a collective experience, like lots of extreme metal releases. (Even the good ones) There are a handful of exceptions to the general frenetic style, specifically the two gentle, instrumental tracks, "Imogen's Puzzle pt. 2" and "Siobhan's Song". The former is fun little bit of atmospheric and demented carnival music, while the latter is a very calm, slow building weave of pretty guitar lines and arpeggios backed by some keyboards and other things. Both fine tracks, and a nice change of pace. Of the typically heavy and insane tracks, "Kill Us" is easily the finest, with Arp's must stunning licks and riffs of all topped with some particularly intense vocals and a nice jazzy interlude. "Scissors ... Paper Doll" is another particular standout, with plenty of crushing rhythms and a chorus (!) while "Insects" particularly stands out by having probably the most slick and insinuating guitar lines on the album. Most significantly, apart from the the joke track at the end, there are no wasted or unnecessary tracks on this album.
Ehh, I guess that's it. This is a pretty stunning achievement within the genre, and it's gonna be tough to find a better tech-metal album than this this year.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful!,
This review is from: Our Puzzling Encounters Considered (Audio CD)This is exactly the kind of music I have been waiting for since Dillinger screwed the pooch. The technicality is great. What an amazing guitarist & drummer. This is more along the lines of extreme metal than tech. The murderistic screaming is what gets me. Congrats on a great album.. To me, this is one for the ages. Will not disappoint ( if you can handle it ).
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A metal must have,
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This review is from: Our Puzzling Encounters Considered (Audio CD)I'd only read about this band from this website, and was even more intrigued upon finding that they hail from right here in Rochester. It's always cool to find a really good local band that's making waves. Their first album was absolutely flooring, technical wizardry, intense and aggressive yet a lot of jazz influences to give color and make the album better rounded. The main problem with that disk is its really short, only about 30min long with a long last song which is mostly odd recordings of old people. This disk is significantly beefier, both in album length and also song length. If anything the music is more complex, more in your face than before. This band might be on the verge of dethroning Dillinger in the tech/math metal scene. Still what impressed me most about this album, was the diversity. Two instrumental tracks and the second nearly 10 minutes in length. Arp has already shown he can play disgustingly fast. Here he demonstrates he's aptly capable of fine technical nuances, and real emotion. Some of the bands best playing is on that track. I was also pleased with the quirkiness of this disk. There seems to be a lot of Rock in Opposition influences in the structure and sound. Think Avahk and some Thinking Plague experimenting with metal and you'll get the general idea. The vocals are better this time around as well, deeper and with more confidence. Lastly there are two bonus tracks, apparently the album deals with a good amount of bi-polar themes and of course with jerky girl friends. So you get an answering machine message from a bi-polar girl going back and forth with love and hate. This goes on repeat with the word "annoying" for about 20 minutes (I ended up fast forwarding to see how long it went on for. For the record though this type of looping which leads into fooling your ears to hear different sounds was done by Steve Reich a long time before this but anyway...) When it finally ends we get a bonus song of sorts for another 5 min or so. But the song is disjointed and not very good so really after the real album is over its best to end the disk, listen to the other once for the heck of it, but I doubt anyone will find it worth waiting for. To sum up, this is a brilliant release by a VERY talented young band, and anyone who likes this form of music, and also likes creative experimentation should buy it as soon as they can. You won't be sorry.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Profound,
This review is from: Our Puzzling Encounters Considered (Audio CD)With a tip of the hat, and 2 thumbs up, I must admit to this being one of the best albums of all time. Technicality and Wildness is Psyopus. This new album WILL be the new bar musicians in this genre strive to reach. Think "Behold....The Arctopus" + Fast Dillinger with ages more Technicality and of course singing. Anyone who appreciates amazing guitar work, intense drumming, sick basswork, and wild singing will not be dissapointed at this piece of history in music. NO regrets NO dissaprovals, GET IT.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nuttier than squirrel fesces...,
This review is from: Our Puzzling Encounters Considered (Audio CD)This nuttier-than-squirrel-fesces band just got crazier. While getting more insane, they also display some better structure to their music. I'm pretty sure Chris Arp is a Transformer. His guitar playing is like taking John Coltrane from his wildest heroin days, and transposing it into hardcore. The clean jazzy passages are about double-speed from the former release, and are an example of the step-up they took on this recording. Autistic-ally mind-boggling.
From a distance, their music to the ear is mediocre at best. The vocals are totally out of place and don't enhance the experience much. But if you hone-in to Chris Arp's inhuman guitar skills, and drumming that is right alongside his finger tricks, that is when you will discover the true diamond of this band.
5.0 out of 5 stars (4.5 stars) Equivalent to putting your brains in a blender,
This review is from: Our Puzzling Encounters Considered (Audio CD)Prediction: Nine out of ten listeners will hear about "Siobhan's Song" (track nine on this disc), and hear that it is such a calm and pretty song. So they check it out, and upon hearing it, think "Yeah, that's nice, but I hate the rest of the album, and this one good song does not mean it's worth buying the whole album for." But then, after several patient repeat spins of "Our Puzzling Encounters Considered," they will really start to come around to it, and eventually start to like the rest of the songs, thinking "Wait a second, this is actually a really cool." And when they reach this point, they will find that they like the heavy stuff in "Encounters" so much that they will listen just to it, and actually end up skipping over "Siobhan's Song." This certainly was the case with me. In fact, after going through a fairly lengthy period of warming up to it (read: not liking it), I can now safely say: I love this C.D.!
"The Pig Keeper's Daughter" is a good early model/example of what you are in for, as it is a fittingly disorienting opener which sounds like it is going in a hundred different places at once, with its frenetic, cork-screwing, careening all over the map guitar picking (including tons of bewilderingly complex licks), solid, slapped bass lines, and insistent, breakneck drumming. Sure, it is inevitable that there be a couple of annoying parts to such rapid-fire madness -- like the sound of a woman moaning, and some sampled squealing noises from a pig. But they are overshadowed by the tune, overall, and its stunning instrumental virtuosity and technical prowess. Some pounding, thunderous breakdowns and a bit of impeccable, machine-gun drumming do not hurt matters, either. For most of these eleven songs, Psyopus' four stringer Fred Decoste spends most of his time just following the guitar leads. But that is not the case in "2," where his bass is allowed to be fleshed out to nearly the front of the mix so he can lay down some prominently audible, fast, and grumbling bass lines. He is even granted a mini-bass solo/interlude, here, too! But it is the guitars that mostly dominate the maelstrom again: They dip in and out of time signatures like they are nothing, with manic, stop-start riffs played at a speed that your mind can't even comprehend. Add to this frantically tight and pummeling drum fills and nightmarish, "escaped from the mental ward" vocals to the mix, and the end result is a song that, like "Pig Keeper," embodies Psyopus' very unique and outrageously dissonant Dillinger Escape Plan-meets-Discordance Axis-meets-Primus-meets-Botch-meets-Behold...The Arctopus-meets-Naked City-meets-Meshuggah sound.
Moving along, "Scissor F Paper Doll" is the audio equivalent to a bunch of cats in a big, computerized blender. It exemplifies the band's patented everybody-soloing-at-once style, with lightning-fast guitar tapping crashing together with every other instrument at a pace where your neck doesn't even stand a chance. As a result, its music is as math-y as a calculus problem, and as complex a nuclear reactor. And it all attacks the listener's eardrums like a drawer full of knives. "Who Meets Liar," which is another piece of very jazzy grindcore (seriously, it sounds like it could be a "Calculating Infinity" b-side), displays the first ever sign of the band streamlining its sound. Don't get me wrong, it is another unbelievably technical (and flawlessly executed) number. But it is different from the rest in that the members of Psyopus act as a unit as the move through the complex maze of sinewy riffs, mathematically-calculated rhythms, and technical breakdowns. Periodically, the guitars step out of the time signature and do their own thing -- with semi-melodic leads, too, I might add -- but only periodically. Oh, and I can't forget to mention this: "Who Meets Liar" is also noteworthy for featuring a shouted chorus (!) that is positively catchy! "Insects" brings back some of those semi-melodic/harmonic riffs, but does so at the band's usual dizzyingly hyper-kinetic pace. And any melody this track may work up is offset by mean, pounding breakdowns and ridiculous drumming (i.e. brutal, grinding blasts) that come thundering through the mix.
Aside from some meaningless sampled noise -- which probably should have been scrapped -- near the beginning, "Imogeni's Puzzle Pt. 2" is all jazzy, Dysrythmia/Tool-inspired progressive rock. It acts as a soothing oasis from all of the unnerving brutality that preceded it, with pleasantly proggy, melodic guitar noodling. Right after that, though, it is right back to the grind -- literally. "Play Some Skynnyrd" might be only 30 seconds long, but it is still an astonishingly devastating blast of pure grindcore that fans of old-school Napalm Death should appreciate. It is stuffed to the gills with skull-cracking hyperblasts, gut-wrenching vocals, and some of the album's best riffage. Indeed, as if there were any doubt about it before, then there sure-as-heck shouldn't be now: Chris Arp has definitely cemented his status as one of the best and most unique, original, and inventive extreme metal guitarists of the new millennium. Just take a listen to the thunderous, earth-quakingly bah-roo-tal, and instinctively memorable riff that he drops in early on. (The only downside to this riff is that it unfortunately does not get repeated later on.)
"Kill Us" also features some of the absolute finest guitar picking heard anywhere on here. Arp throws out gobs of positively killer and dazzling riffage and arpeggio sweeps for the duration of the five-minute playing time. And between that, the jackhammer-fast percussion, the almost constant use of seizure-inducing tempo changes, and frontman Adam "King Auggie" Frappoli's wicked, full-bodied bellows, "Kill Us" plays like a pulverizing wave of disorienting sound that could peel the paint right off of a wall, and may very well give some listeners a heart attack. Next comes the above-mentioned "Siobhan's Song," a truly gorgeous piece of Fantomas-esque free jazz with a soothing ambiance, heavenly acoustic plucking, and harmonic keyboards. Back on the bludgeoning side again, "Happy Valentine's Day" is a skull-caving monster of a song that pummels you into a bloody pulp like the sky is raining boulders. The last song before the album-ending two untitled joke tracks (one of which is just twenty-one-plus minutes of the word "annoying" being repeated over and over; the other is a comical cover of The Red Chord's "Catalepsy") is the title track. It continues in the same brutalizing vein, with guitar work so fast that it actually sounds more like a futuristic laser gun than anything else.
"Our Puzzling Encounters Considered" is easily among the best grindcore records released in the past several years, and also should definitely be considered one of the finest metal releases -- grindcore or otherwise -- of 2007. Again, it will probably take at least three listens to really take hold and fully appreciate, but the result of such repeat listens is incredible! Read my lips, people: This is a very satisfying and highly addictive album that will grow on you...and grow, and grow, and grow!
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing Album,
This review is from: Our Puzzling Encounters Considered (Audio CD)The album is worth it, but you have to see Psyopus live to get the real experience.
4.0 out of 5 stars Nothing too new, but mighty enjoyable,
This review is from: Our Puzzling Encounters Considered (Audio CD)Greatly improving on Psyopus's so-so debut Ideas of Reference, Our Puzzling Encounters Considered is a fast, grinding piece of wildly excessive noisecore, brilliantly rendered and sure to please all fans of over-the-top displays of musical madness. Criticisms of this album as one-dimensional are somewhat justified, as Psyopus do generally have the intensity pushed well past max, but I actually find the single-minded ferocity that's generally on display to be part of this album's charm. With the obvious exception of the relatively calm instrumental tracks, these guys reach a level of sonic devastation that manages to rival anything unleashed by the likes of the Dillinger Escape Plan and Converge, and they do it with a staggering, free jazz-esque level of technical skill and flair to boot. The jarring, stop/start rhythms of tracks like 2 and Whore Meets Liar are some of the most confounding and disorienting out there, combining with the unhinged-mental-patient screams of Adam Frappoli to result in a listening experience somewhat tantamount to trying to solve a calculus problem while being beaten over the head with a crowbar, while the incredibly fast and intense Insects perfectly epitomizes the everyone-soloing-at-once style as Chris Arp unleashes wave after wave of corkscrewing guitar lines and Chris Herman seemingly hits his drumkit about 45,000 times a minute. My personal favorite, Kill Us opens with a succession of crashing waves of sound, all gut-wrenching vocals and scathing guitar riffs, before a dizzying tempo change leads straight into a maelstrom of clashing instruments. Another classic, Play Some Skynrd, is mighty short at around 30 seconds, but it packs in more heaviness and sonic anarchy than many bands will manage in an entire career, with a devastating main riff early on than regretfully doesn't get repeated amid all the rapid-fire chaos. But hey, in an album where time signatures shift every few seconds, the best parts are going to give way pretty quickly, so you're better off not getting too comfortable.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Technically impressive but emotionally unsatisfying,
This review is from: Our Puzzling Encounters Considered (Audio CD)I'm a big fan of "math/tech" metal bands such as the locust, dillinger, etc. and I liked this bands first CD a lot. Chris Arp is a god, the drummer sounds like he's hitting 100 things a second, the musicianship is definitely there, but the songwriting isn't. It sounds like they took the "rock" out of "math rock". I'm not saying they need to follow conventional structures, usually the crazier the better as far as I'm concerned. But the songs still need to have some sort of composition or emotional/viceral flow. Some songs like "insects" and the instrumental arp wrote before joining psyopus that's in this CD reach that but the rest of the songs sound more like a riff catologe or musical chops demo cd. The riffs could be interchangeable because the songs never really gain any momentum or go anywhere in the first place. At a dillinger show (for example) the songs have a momentum and flow of energy so when that certain riff hits it actually hits you and makes you flip out. With many of the songs on this CD there is no real direction so when a potentially powerful riff arrives its limp and has no punch. When I listen to this CD I find myself thinking about the music going on more than feeling it. Any potential rocking gets cancelled out by an ill placed riff or changeup that makes the song fall flat. I admire these guys a lot, but it takes more than musicianship to write an effective song. If these guys could arrange their riffs as well as they could write them they'd be the best in the biz. But this CD will only grab you as long as you are intrigued by the musicianship which for me was only a handful of listens.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Even better than the first!,
This review is from: Our Puzzling Encounters Considered (Audio CD)I love this album. The feeling I get while listening to it reminds of the that feeling I got when I first heard The Dillinger Escape Plan. Our Puzzling Encounters Considered is the first must-have album I've heard in a long, long time.
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