Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Review: Bushwhack - s/t

Label: self-released

Released: 2007

These kids can play. There's no doubt about that. They're outstanding technicians and, at their age (all 18 and 19 years old), almost unparalleled. Beyond the technical though, they really struggle.

Their sound eases its layers back and forth between airy and heavy, but neither conveys anything meaningful other than that they've practiced. Hints of life in "Guacamole" are quickly stamped out by senseless complexity. Stabs at incorporating Middle Eastern and Latin influences too often devolve into bad jazz fusion. "Sirens" almost finds a groove, but it's too little to save it from horrendous synth parts and overuse of the phaser. They spend too much time showing off as individuals and not nearly enough making music together. The big keyboard swells have all bombastic arrogance, but without any punch. Acoustic guitar parts don't even sound acoustic. The rhythms are stiff and icy and the over-processed production robs any richness that the songs might have by overdosing on cheap, clichéd electronics. It's one thing to make a record that is intentionally cold. Those records still have life, however desolate and desperate that life might be. Bushwhack on the other hand have created something whose life, if it ever had any, has been subjugated and ultimately destroyed by technique that gives us the worst of both worlds, being neither interesting nor moving.

A young band usually struggles with technique or songwriting to get their own sound, but makes up for it with passion and excitement. Bushwhack is the opposite. They're textbook musicians and textbook writers, but they play like old men who've spent their days honing their skills rather than honing their souls. They play as if rigor mortis has already set in. Nothing is loose. There are no chances, no improvisations. It is safe and sterile and those are two traits that never make up great rock n roll.

Satriani: 9/10
Zappa: 4/10
Dylan: 4/10
Aretha: 2/10
Overall: 4/10



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Blogger Metal Mark said...

I need to get around to listening to this one soon. I try not to buy into the hype of how young a musician is. To me it's not that important on the end product or it shouldn't be. Now I can't disppute what you are saying because I have not heard it yet, but am I right in saying that you like very little progressive metal to start with?

9:35 AM  
Blogger bob_vinyl said...

Mark, I'd say that this album suffers from the same ills as many progressive metal bands. They are very technical, but short on emotion. It's very similar to my complaint about Dream Theatre who I know you love.

I think the important thing about their age is the potential for growth. I also would have expected more heart than technique from a younger band.

10:01 AM  

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