Listening to dissonant music is an acquired taste. Most people never get into it; others may find the sound appealing right away. But there lies a certain beauty in this frantic, mad music style; something pure and raw, yet highly artistic. Today we look at a band that was destined to be great from the moment they were founded: John Frum. This band features ex-members of The Faceless, The Dillinger Escape Plan and John Zorn. Incorporating psychedelic and heavily dissonant elements into a technical death metal shell, A Stirring In The Noos is music to be reckoned with.
Overall, the instruments follow ever-changing polymeters throughout the album and seem to speak their own language, trying to communicate with one another while being repulsed by the dizzy, maddening sound this conversation implies.
A song that illustrates the psychedelia and dissonance of John Frum very well is “Through Sand And Spirit”. This song is one of my favorite songs of the album. It starts pretty straight forward with thick, sludgy and palm muted power chords. As the vocals kick in, it is instantly apparent how incredibly massive and disgustingly good the vocal performance is on this record. It happens very rarely that I speak this highly of vocals, but considering that the technical prowess is actually on par with every other instrument, they certainly deserve it. Going back to the track, dissonant yet rich chords soar through the song with a subtle undertone of psychedelic feeling, due to the heavy gain and light delay on the guitars. In the background, the drums just pulverize the atmosphere created by the guitars. Through this, the cycle comes full circle and starts anew. In the middle of the song, the track falls into a basic tech death pattern, bringing some nostalgic old school magic to it. Speaking of magic, the best part of the song is just ahead of us. A heavily psychedelic solo with chorus, delay and reverb explodes around the two minute mark of the track. It is one of the most gorgeous moments on this LP, and delivers nightmarish, teeth-clenching scenery.
For everyone that hasn’t already figured it out, I really love this album.
Of course, you will be also greeted with a bit of familiarity with this LP, as some songs like “He Come” lean towards the old The Dillinger Escape Plan style. There are slight traces of hardcore and jazz mixed into the music that leaves it with a subtle but enjoyable hint of mathcore. Contrary to that, tracks like “Lacustrine Divinations” have a more solid tech death feeling to it, but with a modern psychedelic spin through the use of chimes, synths and various guitar effects.
All in all, I adored every minute of this record. It has a great mixture of all the styles the band has tried to incorporate into their sound, but it stays grounded enough to appeal to a variety of metal fans. There are some minor production flaws that put me off here and there, but nothing substantial. The album remains a fantastic, conceptual and experimental LP that surely will hit the sweet spot for some people, while others might get into the more dissonant tech death genre with the encouragement of A Stirring In The Noos. This is definitely my favorite death metal album this far in 2017.
Notable Tracks: “Lacustrine Divinations”; “Through Sand And Spirit”
FFO: Gorguts, Sunless