Death & Taxe$:Paradigms for a New Quarter Label: Aggressive Erectors/Death & Taxe$, PO Box 7334, Torrance, CA 90504. © 1996. Email: email@example.com Web-site: http://home.earthlink.net I'd been given some advance warning about Death & Taxe$ before strapping myself in to my rocket seat to check out their debut slab 'o' wax. I'm pleased to report that the band lives up to the advance hype, delivering a high-powered CD that is very much prog for the 21st century. Opinion seems to be divided into two camps -- older more traditional symphonic fans who can't get into them at all -- and younger listeners who get off on the blending of gut-wrenching thrash-metal and highly advanced jazz-rock fusion pyrotechnics. In other words, this prog ain't about the summer of love or anything remotely near GeneYes derived neo. What is offered up by this highly skilled power-trio is raw-edged, armour-plated rock that takes enormous risks as it walks the tightrope between fistinyaface metallisms and fusion workouts -- frequently within the same pieces of music. In fact I'd have to say that I've never heard anything quite like Death & Taxe$, and the closest rule of thumb analogy would be if Metallica began playing jazz. Since this isn't an instrumental project, the lyrics make for an interesting read. Difficult topics are discussed with tough as nails candour, clearly marking these guys as a bright and brainy bunch, and not the hyper-punks that a casual play-through of the CD might suggest to an inattentive listener. The down side of the approach to composition taken by Death & Taxe$ is that they haven't got a prayer of getting airplay. They are an immensely hard band, they are an immensely complex band, and will be a nightmare for any radio programmer to try to categorize! The only weak area is the lead vocals. Sometimes they work well, especially when Tom Shannon and Tony Martinez join forces to sing in unison. When each is left to his own devices, the fingers start to scrape on the chalkboards, with the vocalists being chronically flat in their delivery. Given that most of the compositions have lengthy instrumental workouts, this is a minor point of irritation...since most thrash bands don't have singers this good anyway! Death & Taxe$ shouldn't be confused with prog-metal outfits like Dream Theater. While there is a huge metallic element in their music, D&T are nothing at all like the reigning kings of prog-metal. The jazz influences run very deep and are sometimes quite sublime in how and where they pop to the surface. Fans of symphonic prog might have to put aside preconceptions of what prog is and isn't in order to get their minds around this album. Those who can do that will be in for a highly satisfying meal of a very different sort of progressive cuisine. Who would like this? Any prog fan who still wants their prog to attempt the idea of progression, and isn't afraid of large-scale guitar driven sonic assault as part of the program. Fusion fans in search of a bit of whomp in their prog. Technical metal fans looking for more than just mathematics and riffing. Who would hate it? Those who can't come to grips with the seamless welding of thrash and jazz into a beautiful new being of steel and diamonds. Those who need their prog to be niiiiiice. The best tracks: "Paper Thoughts", "Fighting The Bromides", "Genuflecting Derelict", "Sexual Intellectual" and "The Woodpecker's Song". Though I could almost have stuck a pin into the track listing to make my choices since everything's top notch. The track the best represents D&T's style: "Genuflecting Derelict". Star rating: 3.5 out of 5. I reluctantly had to strike half a star for the vocals not being on par with the instrumental prowess and the thought-provoking lyrics, and the decision to open with "Cyberpunks..." immediately followed by "Munchkins...". The tracks are too similar in texture and crunch, even if the second half of "Munchkins..." did drift into spacey jazz territory. Otherwise this would be a 4 star CD. See it. Grab it. Play it. A big-time keeper. Personnel: Tom Shannon – Basses, vocals, ray gun, chimes, flexitone, laugh bag & water bottle. Tony Martinez – Guitars & vocals. Mark Hanson – Drums, cymbals (backwards & forwards), bongos & woodblock. Background vocal "Yeah's!" on "Cyberpunks..." by Dale Raines. Arranged & Produced by Death & Taxe$. Engineered by Dino Maddalone & Jeff Mayo. Recorded & mixed @ Dino M III Recording Facility, Torrance, CA. May 95- Jan 96. The Tunes: 1. Cyberpunks From The Galactic Core [3:47] 2. Munchkins From Hell [4:55] 3. Paper Thoughts [7:04] 4. Invisible Man [2:53] 5. Fighting The Bromides [3:47] 6. Genuflecting Derelict [6:09] 7. Circle Song [5:36] 8. Man Machine [3:55] 9. Swirling Serling's Bargain Matinee [6:50] 10. My Silent World [3:30] 11. Sexual Intellectual [5;54] 12. Obstreperous Auguries [2:39] 13. The Woodpecker Song [7:28] 14. Acid Bath [2:38] Steven Davies-Morris (SDM) -- A 21st Century Schizoid Man firstname.lastname@example.org http://systemstheory.net
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