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The Alien Blakk - "Bekoming" (CD)

The Alien Blakk - "Bekoming" CD cover image

"Bekoming" track listing:

1. Bekoming
2. Erased
3. Hate Me
4. I Tried You
5. The Path
6. Runnin’ Down A Dream
7. Jigsaw
8. A Question
9. A Lie
10. Psychadehlia
11. The Quickening
12. Snowblind
13. Ann

Reviewed by on March 13, 2010

"After three years of writing, recording, and recruiting a horde of talented musicians, The Alien Blakk has made one of those albums that is both technically outstanding and is actively exciting to work through across numerous listens."

There was a time a decade or two back when it seemed like all music was breaking into new territory and the dream of artistic vision untempered by business concerns or top 40 chart breaking would live forever. Those days may be dead, but sometimes an album or song manages to bring back that feeling of unexplored musical terrain. After three years of writing, recording, and recruiting a horde of talented musicians, The Alien Blakk has made one of those albums that is both technically outstanding and is actively exciting to work through across numerous listens.

“Bekoming” is an album that dives head first into the depths of experimentation and it very rarely comes up for air. There are simply too many styles heard throughout the album to ever adequately list them all. The album by turns is influenced by acts as varied as Cannibal Corpse, Tom Petty, and Faith No More. Whether it’s a melodic instrumental interlude that rivals the melancholy feel of an Opeth track or a high energy segment that will give the punk rock crowd a thrill, “Bekoming” has got it all and it’s all done amazingly well.

The album has an off the wall vibe that takes standard sounds in different ways. The drum heavy opening and off kilter guitar work on tracks like "Jigsaw" is more playful than aggressive. It doesn’t take long for the full-force insanity to explode out of nowhere with harsh vocals and crazy guitar acrobatics. The song is defined by guitar work that dances from place to place, giving a feeling of moving towards multiple locations at once instead of flowing in one direction towards the end of the track.

Prior to "Jigsaw" is the first of two cover tracks, and what is easily one of the best listening experiences on the disc. Nobody’s ever heard Tom Petty’s “Running Down a Dream” quite like this before. The song keeps its rock base even with the addition of growls and distorted guitars, and even heads off for brief forays into a twangy country sound. Somehow the mix of those distinctly different sounds creates an overall whole that not only works as a cover, it works as an entry in the track listing of the album. Anyone who hadn’t heard the original probably wouldn’t be able to guess it’s a cover, as the track fits smoothly within the context of the music.

Besides founder and guitarist Joshua Craig there are a number of big names in metal working their magic on the disc. David Ellefson provides his signature bass sounds, so it shouldn’t be surprising that the bass is frequently high up in the mix and drives several of the tracks. There are also guest spots from Deron Miller of CKY, Eric Knutson from Flotsam and Jetsam, and Kevin Talley of Daath. Donnie Hamby of Double Drive also pops in on to provide his vocals on “Erased,” which again takes the album in a more rock and roll direction.

The most unexpected guest appearance occurs on the title track when voice actor and Star Wars favorite Mark Hammil lends his considerable talents for a voiceover of a long departed father talking with his still living son. The back and forth discussion is surprisingly poignant, aided by the minimal strings in the background and melancholy guitar work, and never gets too pretentious or overblown.

The entire album is composed of highlight material that has something new and interesting to offer. “Psychadelia,” for instance, is named such for a reason: toke and listen at your own peril. “Snowblind” is a cover of the Black Sabbath song of the same name, and again goes for a more rock/traditional metal appeal that will likely please fans of the original.

“Bekoming” frequently shifts gears between heavy death metal, groove metal, hard rock, and instrumental melodic meanderings. The album plays out like the promise of Faith No More fulfilled for a new generation of music lovers who want to hear something genuinely new and artistic. It has everything that was great about the exploratory nature of music in the ‘90s, but wrapped up in a 2010 death metal package.

Highs: Pretty much everything - each song has something interesting and new beyond the last.

Lows: The final instrumental track "Ann" is good, but doesn't flow with the album as well as the rest of the songs.

Bottom line: A painstakingly crafted and superbly executed experimental metal album that has a little of everything.

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)