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Brain Tentacles - "Brain Tentacles" (CD)

Brain Tentacles - "Brain Tentacles" CD cover image

"Brain Tentacles" track listing:

1. Kingda Ka
2. Fruitcake
3. Cosmic Warriors Girth Curse
4. Hand Of God
5. Gassed
6. The Spoiler
7. Death Rules
8. The Sadist
9. Fata Morgana
10. Peace In War
11. Palantine

Reviewed by on November 2, 2016

"If you like it as experimental as it gets, give Brain Tentacles a try. If nothing else, you'll have greatly expanded your musical horizons and experienced a journey you won't soon forget."

Weird and wacky music jettisoned out of your speakers with wild abandon is what you can expect from the aptly titled Brain Tentacles and this debut, self-titled album. Throw out everything you had in mind from a band featuring Municipal Waste and Yakuza members and instead prepare for an incredibly heavy album that ditches the guitars and replaces them with sax.

Personally I'm a big fan of saxophone in metal bands, and don't understand why it isn't utilized more. From the smooth blending of styles from Ihsahn to the absolutely nutso sound explosions from Painkiller, sax has a ton of applications in extreme underground music. Brain Tentacles offers a very madcap approach to song structure using the instrument, and there's some real aural mad science going on here.

“Kingda Ka” gets right into it with a high speed, swirling explosion of sounds, and 1:52 later we hit the schizo “Fruitcake” with its operatic and jazzy feel. Up next the album takes a hard left turn with “Cosmic Warriors Girth Curse,” using bizarrely long silent pauses between note segments. For a real change there's “Fata Morgana,” which has an almost-Metallica style groove on the string side and a smoky jazz sax part over top. Most surprising on that track is that the fuzzed-out harsh vocals are dropped in place of clean singing, just to keep listener's on their toes.

In all the sound shifting insanity, of course there's some oddity that doesn't work as well as the standout tracks. “Gassed” is just the band throwing a tantrum at some dude who didn't like rock and roll sax and is filled with nonsense screams. It's kinda funny, and I kinda don't want to hear it ever again. “Death Rules” meanwhile is overly repetitive, and same goes for “The Sadist,” although that one has as great style shift halfway through. The 12:33 ending track “Palantine” is actually a four minute song followed by eight minutes of weird prank calling material just because I guess.

As a weird avant-garde album bringing out an under-utilized instrument in metal, there's both really compelling and intricate music and just bizarrely odd stuff. The end result is a mixed bag, but one that leans more towards awesome than awful. If you like it as experimental as it gets, give Brain Tentacles a try. If nothing else, you'll have greatly expanded your musical horizons and experienced a journey you won't soon forget.

Highs: This is some truly crazy sax metal, and a lot of it will never leave my head

Lows: Some of those sounds that will never leave my head are most certainly not sticking around in a good way...

Bottom line: Not for the faint of heart, but if you love sax in metal or extremely avant-garde music, then this one's for you.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls

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)