Harpoon - "Deception Among Birds" (CD)
"Deception Among Birds" track listing:
1. To the Tall Trees
2. Prequel to a Lifetime of Disappointment
5. Troglodyte's Delight
6. The Cut of His Jib
7. Shit Wizard
8. Deception Among Birds
Reviewed by sonictherapy on October 7, 2011
I first heard of this Chicago trio when they released their "Company Man" (not a Zoetrope cover) video, which was an exercise in stark black and white chaos. Harpoon has put forth their sophomore effort now, which is a decent continuation of the sound characterizing their first album - an integration of nu-metal, epic drone noise and core thrashing.
"Deception Among Birds" has quite a few moments that will elevate it above much of the new metalcore heap. Vocalist Toney has a good screaming energy to his voice that at times reminds me of Zack de la Rocha. When the songs stay at the rapid fire -core pace, like "The Cut of His Jib" or the good back-and-forth riff rocker "Shit Wizard," Harpoon has found their niche in terms of sounding the best. The title track capitalizes on a warped loop of drone noise that almost sounds like the warm-up of a chamber orchestra, trailing off into an acoustic guitar outro making for an interesting listening experience. They also have a penchant for dragging the rhythm and throwing in ambient elements for effect in the mid-sections of songs such as "Phlegm," which adds an isolated, bleak feel to the numbers.
Other things about the album didn't strike the right chord with me. The sinister vocal intro to "Troglodyte's Delight" and the ambient repetition pattern of the basic notes into a melodic loop is all right until those softly-sung, sensitive choruses come into play. Half the songs have these choruses, like "Dreadnought," and they sound like oil and water in combination with the music. Alot of the nu-metal genre employs this technique, but I'm not big on it.
Also, Harpoon has stated that they don't wish to have a "fallible" human complement their drum machine. Many are of the belief that to have a live show or metal cred, you really need to have a drummer. They do keep time with it well with it in "Prequel to a Lifetime of Disappointment" with complex loops of fretwork that approximate a melody, but you can tell that it is just a little too perfect and programmed. This track has that atonal noise that is a unifying theme of much of their music, but changes a bit haphazardly. At least in "To the Tall Trees," the consistent droning changes back and forth ably from technical breakdowns.
When Harpoon follow an idea through and don't add too much cacophony to a song, they do well. Part of their appeal is going from fast to random around a hairpin curve, and usually it works well when the song is well written. They have good elements of noise, -core and metal that sometimes flow well together, but they should lose those choruses and consider integrating a full-time drummer.
Highs: Decent moments of -core metal and ambient drone
Lows: The choruses and drum machine detract from it
Bottom line: Half the songs on "Deception Among Birds" have a good listenable quality and flow well.
Get more info including news, reviews, interviews, links, etc. on our Harpoon band page.