"some music was meant to stay underground..."

Incoming Cerebral Overdrive - "Controverso" (CD)

Incoming Cerebral Overdrive - "Controverso" CD cover image

"Controverso" track listing:

1. Reflections
2. Oxygen
3. Controversial
4. Science
5. Magic
6. Sound
7. Colours
8. There

Reviewed by on August 4, 2010

"Everything from classic rock, sludge, hardcore, grind, and symphonic are thrown into the sound experience I.C.O. calls 'Controverso.' "

In a world where pretty much everything has already been done in metal, it is something special when a band comes along with a sound to call their own. Italy’s Incoming Cerebral Overdrive (aka as I.C.O.) are that band, with a hybrid style of avant-garde metal. Everything from classic rock, sludge, hardcore, grind, and symphonic are thrown into the sound experience I.C.O. calls “Controverso.”

I.C.O’s second studio album kicks off with an absolutely hectic yet mesmerizing rocker called “Reflections.” Like a Baroness riff high on cocaine, the song begins with a great classic rock feel, only sped up to finger melting speeds. The vocals from Samuele Storai add a unique dimension to the song with a high pitch shriek that sounds nearly un-human interchanged with a more hardcore vocal approach. “Reflections” is ripe with fantastic musicianship on every level, with enough oddities to truly garner its avant-garde status. Even a short piano solo finds its way into the mix, creating the perfect album opener.

The following tracks “Oxygen” and “Controversial” are a little less innovative than the opening track but still feature moments of abstract aggression. “Controversial” is especially interesting with its constant riff changes and outside-the-box mentality. While more akin to the hardcore sound, the song is anything but basic and the band utilizes their talents to the fullest to create a complex yet memorable track.

“Science” is another unique experience with another rock vibe leading off into a fusion of complex time signatures and mind bending fret work. “Science” also builds off the intriguing style of “Reflections” to include a great laid back section driven by a clean southern rock styled riff. Although that would be to normal for I.C.O. so they add it another batch of Storai’s ungodly shrieks to really elevate the song to a whole new realm of pleasant weirdness.

Not everything on “Controverso” is a life changing experience though, with “Sound” being the closest thing the band has to a more traditional composition. Their hardcore influence takes over and carries through most of the track, which is a speedy and much less technical song. That's not necessarily a bad thing as “Sound” is a well executed thrasher that still manages to sound fresh and new. The following track “Colours” is based around the same idea as “Sound,” but with much more tempo changes thrown in between the thrashy riffage and occasional patches of synth work. The two songs flow into one another and could very well be one longer, extended track.

“Controverso” ends with the incredibly eerie and the mostly instrumental “There.” The song begins from an intro that builds the creepy mood very well, similar to that of “Lateralus” era Tool, working its way up to haunting absurdity. Moving between the cleaner tranquil sounds and the distorted guitars, a bone chilling howl begins to bleed through the background. The incoherent noises and screams from vocalist Samuele Storai for some reason work very well, adding a fantastic accent to the closing instrumental. The abstract vocals, sounding similar to that of a dying animal, create for a unique song and work as an extremely effective way of sending off an album built around weird textures and sounds.

“Controverso” may not appeal to everyone due to its abstract songwriting, but fans of avant-garde or progressive metal will surely appreciate I.C.O’s forward thinking. “Controverso” is a fantastic, imagination filled album that does not rely on others to craft their sound. Anyone looking for something new owes it to themselves to check this album out.

Highs: Imagination capturing metal that throws in many surprises.

Lows: A track or two relies heavily on the band's hardcore influence.

Bottom line: The perfect example of how to mash genres, yet sound cohesive.

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 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)