Monday, September 6, 2010

Sykotyk Rampage - "Bella Disgusta" Review!!

Hey guys, it's time for our 15th monthly local metal CD review at The Sault Metal Scene, just six days after our last album review! And for just the second time in SMS history, we're reviewing an album from a band we previously reviewed an album for, as we take a look at Sykotyk Rampage's brand new album, "Bella Disgusta"! The 23rd album from the local blue Chinese metal crash punk mainstays, it was released on August 27th of this year, and was self-produced and recorded at River Front Recreation Studios in 2009 and early 2010. It features the band's current lineup, including singer/drummer Paul Becker, guitarists Shane Kokis & Dirk Becker (who sings lead on one song), and bassist Brian Cattapan. As is their normal standard, this album was recorded live as they played it, and it's now available for fans to check out! Already, "Bella Disgusta" has found it's way onto many of Sykotyk Rampage's array of internet pages to buy and/or stream, but the best place to do so is at their SoundClick page, where you can buy the album in full via mp3 download for $9.99, or for 75¢ a song!

Note that buying each song individually will save you $1.74 compared to the full album download, but buy the whole thing, cause it will save you time and clutter. Click here to buy it, but if you don't wanna, the album is 100% streamable there too, so make note! There are 11 songs, totalling over 55 minutes of music, so let's start with the first song, "Girl Named Jen"! (Updated on September 28th, 2012)

"Girl Named Jen" is the only song on "Bella Disgusta" featuring guitarist Dirk Becker on lead vocals, which is a departure from older albums which usually feature him singing lead on multiple songs. It actually starts off in a bluegrass/country-esque style, as Dirk sings about a girl named Jen, of course! The music is fairly straightforward at first, with Dirk utilizing his familiar punk-esque vocal quavers over top of a soft guitar riff and downplayed drumming. But at around 1:12 in, the song changes gears completely into a hard driving punk-esque mood with more aggressive vocals, before reverting to the country sound 10 seconds later. Actually, the song flips back and forth like that for much of the later part of the song, though Paul Becker does chime in on backing vocals and the song ends much softer and quieter than the earlier country-driven sound already was. It's a well played song, and I especially like the punk breaks, which display a lot of raw aggression, but the country-like sound for most of the song seems a bit off to me. Maybe it's because it's the first song, it doesn't really have the pull an album opener should have given it's style, but it is well played! Just not my thing, mostly.

Second is "I Do", which is the first song to feature Paul Becker on lead vocals, a position he retains throughout the rest of "Bella Disgusta". A slow bass intro from Brian Cattapan opens this song, with the rest of the band slowly joining in. The song has a catchy groove, but it has a slower laid back pace with some interesting guitar work that has a vague international flair to it. Paul's singing sounds very buried amongst the instruments, though it's not bad, as he uses his softer (yet unique) singing well to suit the track. Late, the guitar work gets wavier and bouncier as the song picks up in pace and tempo. The latter half of "I Do" is much better than the opening for that reason, but I appreciate the slow build to get to that point. It still keeps that laid back pace, with good instrumentation, but I think I was expecting more out of it. The lyrics are simple, the singing is mixed too low, and the song just glides along on a slow climb. I do like "I Do", but it's not hitting the heights I've been expecting yet on this album.

Next, we have "Daddies Little Girl", which starts a nice little drum intro from Paul before an abrupt entry of the bass and guitars. Once again, they're not particularly heavy, but they have a catchy little riff going, especially on Brian's part! Paul's singing is more audible here, but it sounds a bit like it's on the wrong song. Sounds too energetic for the material at first After about the two minutes, the song does pick up a bit in energy, but the same riffing and style continues throughout. Especially late, I kept thinking that Paul's more aggressive yelling style of singing would be welcome, but it never quite hit that point. We get a bit of a guitar solo late, which reminds me of the solo sections that we got on earlier albums, which were more freeform and low-key compared to a normal solo. "Daddies Little Girl" gets a bit chaotic later on, and it definitely ends on a high note as the crash music starts coming out in full force at a sustainable rate! This is definitely the best song so far on "Bella Disgusta", but I have a feeling that there's better songs yet to come, cause this one, especially early, wasn't perfect.

Fourth is "She Got It All", which is the album's longest song, at 7:48. The song starts off very bluesy with some familiar bluesy vocals from Paul as the bass and guitar bounce along in a similarly blues-inspired fashion! However, it's faster pacing helps keep it unique, as does some the progressively heavier guitar riffing. I like the sound of the first half of "She Got It All", which successfully "crashes" up the blues, but it did get repetitive after a while. The second half of the song does change things up, which has the instrumentation filling the song better and including a different melody of singing and backing guitar. Nice for variety, but it waters down the bluesy sound from before. Actually, it almost sounds like Paul's rapping, oddly! The end of the song gets quieter as it comes to it's conclusion, with a heavier patch in between, and thankfully doesn't end abruptly like many songs on "22" did. Though the first half was repetitive, "She Got It All" did hold my attention despite it's length, and successfully exhibited their more blues-related influences, so thumbs up from me!

Next up is another long one, "Sacrifice Your Love", which also clocks in at over 7 minutes long. This track opens with an ominous and quiet guitar opening, before the full band kicks in after about 42 seconds. I really liked that, to be honest! Paul's vocals are probably the loudest and most aggressive we've heard so far, but they seemed totally out of place at first, given this song's lower-key and still ominous tone. It felt like the singing here and on "Daddies Little Girl" should be swapped, so to better match the music. That being said, they grew on me, and they oddly started to compliment each other! The guitar work is really nice, some of the best on "Bella Disgusta", from the darkly soft riffing to the heavier solo section about four minutes in. However, this song could really stand to be chopped down a bit, as it maintains the same pace and style for far too long to the point where it got a bit boring after five or six minutes. Still, I oddly really like this song, which goes against my usual trend of liking their heavier "crash" tunes over slower material. Just chop it down to about 5 minutes and this could be one of the highlights of the album!

Song number six is "Bag On Your Face", which we were introduced to in February at Sykotyk Rampage's third-place set at the Sault College/Scotties Tournament Battle of the Bands! The lyrics are pretty funny, as Paul sings about asking a girl to "put the bag back on your face, bitch", after taking her home while too drunk to judge her facial appearance. This is a bouncy number that's easy to dance along to, but not especially heavy either. The singing ranges from Paul's usual style to some more unique "dee deedle-ee" sounds, as the band plays along. Brian's bass works well, while the guitar work is solid, especially on the heavier patches late. I was more amused by this song than wowed by it musically, but I like it as a light and funny number, even though it can be repetitive.

Next is "Would You Do", which starts slower with some deliberate guitar work and scattered singing mixed into the background. The opening is very atmospheric, including a sort of an oncoming wind-like effect which evolves into the band picking things up finally! The song doesn't start very heavily at all, with some not-very-melodic singing and normal instrumentation that feels like something you'd hear in a dense fog, in it's style. It's hard to explain, but it's not heavy, so I'll say that much. After about 2:45, the song's energy level and heaviness does raise, but it doesn't last, reverting back to the older style quickly, save for some louder and more aggressive singing, until another wind-like effect segues the song into a soft atmospheric ending. I don't know what it is about "Would You Do", but it never seems to take off, and only here and there does it hit a note that leaves an impression. It's played well, but it's missing that "something" that we've seen so often from some of their older and better known tracks.

Eighth is the album's shortest song, the 87 seconds long "Remember My Girl", which is a softer ballad-like song with features Paul singing in a gritty and melodic tone about remembering a girl not in his life. Aside from the backing guitar, there's no other instrumentation on this song, and it isn't terribly memorable, though it has a light casual feel, while holding some rememberance. It's good for what it is! That's followed by "You Babe", which opens with a slow but catchy bass line from Brian which is soon joined by Paul's drumming and singing. That's all we get too at first, guitars take a back seat entirely for the first two minutes before they slowly join the party, and even then, they're only sporadically prominent. This song has a nice little groove at first, but it is very repetitive after a while, and it's not that heavy. But Paul does sing well, and Brian gets the most moments in the sun on this track, especially late! So, it works for what it is, but again, I wanted more out of it.

The second-last song on "Bella Disgusta" is "Stinky Fingers", which was originally written way back in 1995, and is just now finally making it onto an album! After some interesting slow chant-like vocals about, well, stinky fingers, the song picks up pretty fast with some hard hitting drums, and the familiar "crash" sound I came to enjoy from Sykotyk Rampage! The vocals alternate from softer melodic quavers to Paul's familiar aggressive tones, while the guitar riffing is pretty good in it's own freeform improvised way! This is the stuff I was hoping to see more of on "Bella Disgusta", and it doesn't feel 15 years old at all! Not a lot of variance to it, just straightforward harsh music, and it works! The ending is a bit abrupt though, but at least it doesn't feel like they just cut the song early! Good stuff! The album closes with "Quiver And Quake", which started with a bluesy opening riff from Brian, temporarily halting my hopes for a crash closer. But when the song picked up, it got heavy and sustained itself with some aggressive vocal work and some nice drumming, along with solid riffing and the constant blues line that kept it moving! It also has some late atomspheric touches and some chaotic guitar solo work as well, helping to end "Bella Disgusta" on a high note!

So there's "Bella Disgusta", but what did I think? This newest album has a lot of bright spots to be sure, from the crash sounds of "Stinky Fingers" and much of the second half of "Girl Named Jen", to the oddly effective "Sacrifice Your Love", among others! The band are playing at the same rate and style we've came to expect from their past few releases, so there's no complaints about their ability, especially given their unique style of recording and songwriting. Paul Becker's voice is at top form as he uses his original form of singing well, be it in heavy or bluesy ways, and his drumming keeps along nicely! Dirk Becker and Shane Kokis are as good as they ever are on guitar, with their riffs and notes matching up well no matter the song! Brian Cattapan's bass work is a standout for me again, his work is audible and funky, and often was the backbone of many melodies, so kudos to him!

However, I have to say, I liked "22" better as a whole. "Bella Disgusta" seemed to lack a lot of the heavier insanity of their "crash" songs that we've came to enjoy on earlier albums. Here, we just get it in spurts or on just a couple of tracks. Things seemed too diverse this time around. I noticed a common thread about love throughout the 11 songs, which could explain why the album was more varied than I was hoping. Many songs seemed to get very repetitive as they went along, be they short or long, though I give credit for eliminating the sudden stops at the end of songs like we saw too often on "22". I also missed Dirk Becker's vocal work, which we only got one real glimpse at on "Bella Disgusta". His voice is unique in it's own way, and it's presence was missed after "Girl Named Jen" wrapped up. Songs like "I Do" and "Would You Do" dragged the album down to me, and didn't hold my interest compared to some of the more upbeat songs, but again, "Sacrifice Your Love" proved that they DID make some good slower material this time around! But remember, I do like "Bella Disgusta", which brings more great improvised music to the table that only Sykotyk Rampage can deliver! I just wish it was heavier on the whole, but hey, that's the metalhead in me talking. If you love Sykotyk Rampage's past work, you'll love "Bella Disgusta", but fans of just their harsher crash tunes might be a bit disappointed. Still good though! BUY IT TODAY!!!

Hope you guys enjoyed this month's local metal CD review! So, what's getting reviewed in October? I don't know, but as soon as a new local metal album comes out, I'll likely make that the next review! There are a whole bunch in the works, after all! If one comes out this month, it will be on October 1st or near that date. If none come out this month, I'll see if anything comes out through October, and if nothing does at all, we'll dip into the archives next time around! So I have just as much of an idea as you guys do, we'll just have to wait and see! That's all for today, stay tuned for new local metal news and updates very soon! Thanks everyone!

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