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Polkadot Cadaver - "Sex Offender" (CD)

Polkadot Cadaver - "Sex Offender" CD cover image

"Sex Offender" track listing:

1. Opus Dei
2. Sea Grave
3. Bloodsucker
4. Starlight Requiem
5. Stronger Than Weak
6. Slaughterhouse Striptease
7. Sex Offender
8. Cake And Eat It Too
9. Mongoloid
10. Forever And A Day

Reviewed by on July 7, 2011

"'Sex Offender' is one of the year’s most original, dazzling, and satisfying rock albums, and should be a wake-up call to any Dog Fashion Disco fans not already aboard this train."

When a band is all but unconstrained by genre boundaries and stylistic clichés, why should what amounts to little more than a lineup reshuffling and a name change stop them? With “Sex Offender,” Polkadot Cadaver dares you to answer that question.

For those unaware, Polkadot Cadaver is the de facto continuation of retired Maryland “avant-garde” metal act Dog Fashion Disco, comprised of half its members and possessed of its eclectic, borderline schizophrenic melding of genres within a heavy metal framework. “Sex Offender” is their sophomore effort, and hard proof that vocalist Todd Smith, guitarist/keyboardist Jasan Stepp, and drummer John Ensminger haven’t settled for a mere rehash of their former band. This is a comfortably familiar yet fresh and inspired piece of work.

As with Dog Fashion Disco, the band’s enormous debt to California experimental rockers Mr. Bungle is apparent from the very start – chiefly in the fluid ease with which the song structures zig, zag, twist, morph, and regenerate, often coming full circle in the process. Lead track “Sea Grave” launches a raging, percussive, punk-driven guitar attack that barely has time to rattle your ears before abruptly giving way to a gentle, folkish, recurring acoustic passage. The musical disparity between these styles is smoothed out by the expert continuity of time signatures – until a midpoint tempo shift into full-on thrash ‘n’ roll metal riffage. Smith’s Mike Patton-esque vocal versatility applies itself accordingly, and further helps to accomplish in less than five minutes what normally takes Opeth at least ten: convince you that multiple song breaks have passed unnoticed. It’s a mesmerizing ability that in lesser hands would result in a pretentious, chaotic mess.

The following tracks are equally exciting and diverse. Polkadot Cadaver cools things off with groovy, serpentine melodies (“Bloodsucker,” “Starlight Requiem,” “Stronger Than Weak”), hits the gas pedal with quirky speeders (“Slaughterhouse Striptease,” “Sex Offender”), gets angry again (“Cake And Eat It Too,” “Mongoloid”), and takes a bow with a bizarre ballad (“Forever And A Day”). The whole of the album is crammed with dizzying musical variety; from computer-controlled synths and keyboards to raw, organic funk; from ripping electric guitar carnage to soulful acoustics. Successfully blending elements of Dog Fashion Disco, Mr. Bungle, Faith No More, System Of A Down, Rob Zombie, and Grip Inc. seems a head-scratching challenge, but Polkadot Cadaver makes it look easy and sound perfectly natural.

“Sex Offender” is one of the year’s most original, dazzling, and satisfying rock albums, and should be a wake-up call to any Dog Fashion Disco fans not already aboard this train. Additionally, it should prove a fitting gateway for the uninitiated, for the music is as accessible and catchy as it is eccentric.

Highs: For the eclectic variety of influences, the songwriting is handled incredibly well, resulting in some solid, catchy tunes.

Lows: By the time a particular melody or groove has hooked you, the band has often already moved on.

Bottom line: Forget the "experimental" tag. Polkadot Cadaver is far beyond that stage, and has patented a whole new scientific method for quirky art-metal.

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)