CD Review: Return To Earth - Automata
Like many prog bands, these guys end up sounding very unfocused and disjointed more often than not. It is very obvious rather soon that although they are extremely well seasoned musicians, they don't know how to write a good prog tune. I was recently stuck in a car with a bunch of high school kids who were allowed to swear as much as they wanted. I tried to mock them for cussing at a rate that was down right comical. The problem was that they were so into trying to prove how "adult" or "badass" they were by tossing in the word fuck several times every sentence that they didn't even get I was making fun of them for trying just a bit too hard. It was like a kid who just discovered jerking off. They will bust that nut 15 times a day if they can find enough private time. Although this band has some very well accomplished musicians that have written songs that climbed the charts, when it comes to prog they often come off as those kids who just discovered "the 'F' word" or the kid who first discovered masturbation. There is no strategy to it. Things like focus and song structure are tossed out the window. Let's just say "The Dots Do Not Connect".
That being said I think the band has potential. There blending of modern pop elements with prog-metal is unique. With some work they can give a fresh spin on a rather un-progressive prog scene. The same things that keep me from getting into this band though are the same reasons I never liked drummer Chris Pennie's Dillinger Escape Plan. So maybe I'm totally off and this band will become the next big thing with this album? That disjointed sound could be what other people want. I think it sounds like someone had a perfectly good song and then hit some button on Pro-Tools that threw the parts of the song in the air and re-connected them randomly together again. Some people like that. I don't. However I think with the right producer this could work. Devin Townsned is a mastermind at this kind of thing. Whatever it costs the band should get him to produce next time.
When they go into extremely repetitive whispering it's like an otherwise good SNL skit that drags on long enough to make you hate it. It's like a really bad pop rock band with prog elements just forced in no matter if it makes the song better or not. This is the band's Achilles' heel. Yes they are amazing musicians. Yes they have the ability to write great songs. The problem is that they don't seem sure about what they want this band to be. Yes I'm impressed about how well they can play, but where's the song? They seem to be interested in everything except the craft of song writing. It's like a Death Metal band that is so focused on brutality that they end up with a monotone snooze fest. Singer Ron Scalzo has a good voice and with some work this could be a good thing. There is tons of potential here, but it is 'not ready for prime time. so to speak. They should have waited just a little bit longer to Return To Earth.