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Ideamen - "May You Live In Interesting Times" (CD)

Ideamen - "May You Live In Interesting Times" CD cover image

"May You Live In Interesting Times" track listing:

1. Interesting Times
2. Emergency
3. The Rest
4. Sunshine
5. Horse's Head
6. Incident
7. Collectibles
8. Uneventful day
9. No Thought
10. Paper Goose
11. Quares
12. Your Signature Here

Reviewed by on April 19, 2011

"How can something this diverse be so damn good?"

It’s no exaggeration to say that Chicago’s Ideamen has a sound you’ve probably never heard before. This five-piece has found a way to combine metal, piano-driven pop, Broadway, and alternative rock into a quirky and fun debut album. If the combination of the aforementioned genres makes you ask, "What the hell?," relax – it’s just as wacky as you think, but a good kind of wacky. If you’re looking for innovation and energy in heavier music, this is it.

Theatrics abound in this band, especially in regards to the vocals. Most of the vocals are layered with two, three, and sometimes, four harmonies. The style of singing is more from the musical theater camp and it’s fair to say that this band could really complement fellow progressive band Pain of Salvation on a tour. The bass playing is all over the place, working its fretboard and taking a lead role in the sound. The guitars lend more of a support role, while the vocals are right out front with the piano.

The band never lacks in energy, and songs like "Interesting Times," "The Rest," and "Horse’s Head" really deliver. At times smacking of early Lost Prophets, the boys in Ideamen create some coordinated, riff-driven grooves. In "Emergency," the band puts the spotlight on vocal arrangement towards the middle of the song, with only piano and drum accompaniment, showing off a bit. "Sunshine" has a jazz-rock, feel-good vibe that swings with an undeniable coolness.

"Incident" is a highlight, with the chorus covering ground few have tread before successfully, with harmonized vocal "ooohs" reminiscent of decades-past pop. The following track, "Collectibles," is also a highlight that sees the band singing how they won’t let their "sense of wonder get dried up and plundered" when surrounded by soon-to-come success. "Uneventful Day" defies convention with a My Chemical Romance-meets-swing-dance type of jump-around feel. The entire album is playfully explorative, weaving in and out of genres with ease and confidence.

If the band had any filler, it didn’t make the final cut for the album. The second half of the album, closed out by the exciting "Quares” and "Your Signature Here," are positively proggy and full of the unexpected. "What the hell?" indeed. How can something this diverse be so damn good? The key ingredient is consistency and "May You Live In Interesting Times" has it in abundance.

Highs: Four-part vocal theatrics, combination of genres, consistency, flair for the unexpected.

Lows: Definitely not for the straight-forward traditional metalhead.

Bottom line: Defying convention and full of vocal antics, this is a must-have for fans of the unusual and the unusually good.

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 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)