What did you have for dinner last night? I know what you thought you ate, but can you be certain of just exactly what was in your food? The answer, in this day of profits before responsibility, is probably No. Now that we are aware of our ignorance, where can we look for answers to this dilemma, which has been increasingly occupying my thoughts as I type this paragraph?
Resolution to this quandary comes in the form of San Ramon 5 piece Cyborg Octopus. It is the thrust of their recently released Single Pukefeast Inc, taken from the Primordial EP.
Whilst providing us with the sorry truth about our beloved comestibles, Cyborg Octopus (C.O) also confront us with a consummate, professional and highly charged musical backdrop. Pukefeast Inc. is a storming Deathcore track, essentially winding a single riff around different stanchions; starting out with the deployment of a lyrical Spanish guitar augmented with staccato claps, recapitulating in powerful, forcing forms.
All of this is underpinned by a constantly evolving rhythmic and vocal syncopation. Intense, highly energised drumming is the perfect glue which allows instruments to drop in and out of the mix revealing the dexterous facility of the origin riff. It is a heavy and melodiously beautiful treatment of a subject that no beauty should be born of.
But this band, born of the remains of BleedBeforeTheSkies, is not here to force pill after polit-core pill down your throats. Variety is the spice of life and it certainly is the paprika within the C.O Chilli. Their hearts, minds and pineal glands are open to experience; both primitive and intellectual. As they seek to explore the primacy of what it truly means to be an occupant of planet earth, in a 2 song opus The Cosmicycle, which concludes the EP.
Essentially the songs are an attempt to rationalise into words our place on this planet. That we were seeded from stars, elements bursting forth across the Universe and that from whence we came, we shall return, both as individuals and as an inter-connected planetary collective.
The songs, build, like lasagne, with layer after fecund layer of strength and melody. Multiple breakdowns used with confidence and skill allowing water colour washes of phrase to infuse each song with a many faceted life. The breakdowns do not exist for their own sake but are necessitated by their absolute requirement to fulfil the powerful emotional needs of the songs.
Vocals are delivered with a youthful insistence that cannot be ignored. Although, however impressive the performance I did find myself thinking that a slightly cleaner sound would elucidate the listener to the erudite, thoughtful lyrics.
Throughout the EP, the music abounds with a delicacy and strength, united in a precision of song craft rarely heard in this genre; where idea often overrides emotion; and muscularity of sound devours the more considered notions of structure and dynamics.
This is not to suggest that C.O are without a vast store of muscular musical intent, in fact the very opposite. They have coalesced into a tight amorphous 3 song ball, an amalgam of; anger, skill, frustration, optimism, despair, lucidity and hope. Providing us visions of Dark Days lived and Bright Nights spent dreaming; explicitly of our unending potential and what it might yield if poison or profit didn’t blinker every insight.
As a band they are unafraid to declare a broad and intricate understanding of music from around the world. However it is their comprehension and talent to apply that understanding that makes these caustic and invigorating Deathcore anthems such vital listening.
Occasionally I think that writing about music is like Dancing about Architecture. It is tough to present the reader with a true idea of a band’s sound without being derivative and becoming comparison indulgent. But having said that I shall allow myself this one moment of crudity: C.O sound to me like Billy Talent, Rival Schools and 311’s heavier moments, having sex fuelled by Death Metal Viagra.
What Cyborg Octopus have done here is crafted a tenacious little EP, full of intent and intellect, passion, hope and promise; which pulls itself along like a sail at full extension. It is filled with the kind of music that makes you swell with a proud fulfilment at being human, regardless of the darker edges of our collective personality. They harness divergent themes to stimulate the mind; with impassioned pleas for open awareness on one hand, and an expansive, ontological yet firmly humanist look at the birth of life and its unyielding circle, on the other.
It impresses in its direct accessibility and its tight, flexible, highly skilled musicianship and clear, concise, highly professional production. A real variety of guitar tones and techniques, structured, fluid bass and enough blast beats and tempo changes to satisfy the most demanding of ears. This was my first exposure to C.O and I have been mightily impressed.
What are you having for dinner tomorrow? Robot Calamari? At least you know what you’re getting!
– John Whitmore