Thursday, July 21, 2011

Iwrestledabearonce - Ruining It For Everybody

Ruining It For Everybody
Century Media Records/E.M.I. Music Australia

Few bands within today’s metal scene polarise listeners quite like U.S. based outfit Iwrestledabearonce. While their debut full-length effort ‘It’s All Happening’ (Which was released in 2009) managed to attract some praise amongst critics who found the band’s metallic avant-garde mix of everything under the sun as refreshing as very different, others however weren’t as impressed, and merely dismissed the band as deliberately making their music difficult and quirky to both alienate and annoy listeners - lacking the necessary skills in song writing to ensure their songs had any long lasting appeal.
While my opinion of the five piece act (Comprising of vocalist Krysta Cameron, guitarists/programmers Steven Bradley and John Ganey, bassist Mike ‘Rickshaw’ Martin and drummer Mikey Montgomery) well and truly fell into the latter category, I was interested to see if they would mature as song writers between releases; as well as seeing how the band would fare in the long run with their second full-length effort. Well, two years and one remix E.P. (2010’s ‘It’s All Dubstep’) release later, Iwrestledabearonce are back with ‘Ruining It For Everybody’.
The most immediate impression I got when listening to their latest effort is that the bizarre and downright weird elements that were evident on their debut release is still very much present once again.
Musically, the same schizophrenic mix of metalcore, electronica, grindcore, lounge music and everything else you can think of remains true to the sound that made them stand out in the first place. And on the vocal front, Cameron pushes the envelope in terms of utilising a wider range of vocal effects this time around, including a far greater prominence of cleaner passages to break up the monotony of her guttural growls.
But while the core elements of what makes up Iwrestledabearonce are still in place, it’s the band’s song writing that really stands out, and ultimately separates ‘It’s All Happening’ from ‘Ruining It For Everybody’.
Fleshed out with flashes of cheesy keyboard passages, passages of grindcore, metallic funk and clean vocals that add a symphonic touch, the opening track ‘Next Visible Delicious’ is a hybrid clash of everything you would expect from the band, but clearly with a bit more thought put into its overall construction.
The single/promotional video clip ‘You Know That Ain’t Them Dogs’ Real Voices’ doesn’t stray too far from the template laid down by the opener, with the exception of some heavier guitar passages and a brief Elvis impression around the three quarter mark, while the choral effects toward the tail end of ‘Deodorant Can’t Fix Ugly’ is a definite highlight.
The chilled out ‘This Head Music Makes My Eyes Rain’ is something a little more straightforward and maturer sounding from what you would normally expect of the band, and is easily one of the strongest songs on the album for that very reason, while the multifaceted ‘Gold Jacket, Green Jacket’ and the strings enhanced, disco infused and catchy ‘Karate Nipples’ are further strong moments on the album.
Unfortunately, not everything on ‘Ruining It For Everybody’ works. Song writing is still a big stumbling block for the band, and one of the major reasons why many of the tracks seem to sound alike after a while.
Overall, ‘Ruining It For Everybody’ is an improvement on the band’s debut, and should please those who enjoyed the band in the past. But despite the positives, this album isn’t likely to change the minds of those who weren’t convinced of the band’s musical credentials in the first place.

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© Justin Donnelly