Sometimes you can tell exactly what you're going to get just by looking at it. The whole 'Judge a book by its cover' mentality is frowned upon, sure, but there's no denying we all do it. That plate of spaghetti? Yeah, it sucks just as much as you think it's going to. Or that new film with Katherine Heigl in it? Don't bother, it got a 6% on Rotten Tomatoes (And besides, we all know to avoid Katherine Heigl films like the plague). But sometimes, that snap judgement isn't created by negativity, it's fostered by an unknown positivity. That's what I felt listening to Vampire Squid's self titled album.
Vampire Squid (Which is one of the best band names I've heard in awhile) play a combination of death metal and grindcore, with occasional math-core riffs thrown in for good measure. That sounds like a chaotic hand to be dealt, but these guys manage to wrap it up neatly in one package, without either of those elements losing their punch. I've never heard of anyone trying something like that before (Or maybe I'm a bit too sheltered from the world of metal), so on top of them pulling it all off, the fact that they play it in the first place is a testament to their musical courage.
"Flying Fish Hooks" and "Just Keep Finning" (Catch a theme here?) are the finest examples of what these gentlemen are capable of. Occasionally brutal, yet melodic, they have a freshness to them that can't be denied. One second you're flipping tables over in mosh-like rage to the music, the next, standing in awe at the complex rhythms they're creating. It feels slightly like a metal band comprised of members who all have ADD and OCD, but that's a great combination to have for a band like this.
Even when a track like "Jellyfish Defibrillator" goes for the math-core approach more than anything else, it still manages to work. And what can I say about songs like "Somebody Please Kelp Me?" and "Licensed To Krill" that kind of isn't already in the title of those songs? OK, maybe just the fact these guys are pretty hilarious, but I'll go further and say that they're very strong death metal tracks, rounding out an already strong metal album.
Vampire Squid hits a home run here, and it's not hard to see why. When you work hard at your craft, but do it with a very grounded sense of humor, the end result usually works out in your favor. Too often do people take their creative projects too seriously, forgetting instead that people prefer a less heavy-handed approach to most anything. And that's something none of us have to judge to know it works. - Shane