Behold the Arctopus

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Skullgrid (2007), 7/10
Horrorscension (2012), 6.5/10
Hapeleptic Overtrove (2020), 6/10
Interstellar Overtrove (2023), 5/10

Legendary bassist Colin Marston (Gorguts, Dysrhythmia, Krallice), guitarist Mike Lerner, and drummer Charlie Zeleny formed Behold the Arctopus in New York to play instrumental post-metal. The EP Arctopocalypse Now Warmageddon Later (2003) contains the eight-minute You Will Be Reincarnated as an Imperial Attack Space Turtle, Part 1, a wild and cohesive fantasia that blends cartoonish and doom-y overtones. The EP Nano-Nucleonic Cyborg Summoning (2005, recorded in november 2003) contains the more hysterical seven-minute Exospacial Psionic Aura (with both dizzying solos and savage attacks) The first album, Skullgrid (2007) is a work of insane concentration and ferocious, almost obsessive, precision. Of Cursed Womb and especially Scepters are explosive conats of guitar noise. The funk-jazzy-classical phantasmagoria Canada frames their luxuriant jungle of sound, while the tortured nine-minute You Are Number Six (with one of Mick Barr's best guitar solos outside of his bands Orthrelm and Krallice) exudes a sense of extreme neurosis but also of erupting volcanic energy. The torrential implosion of the seven-minute Transient Exuberance adds Jordan Rudess' electronic keyboards before its stuttering coda.

Weasel Walter moved to New York to join the band on drums. Horrorscension (Black Market, 2012), the first album with Walter, sounds more improvised and generally more cerebral than the first one, and sometimes more confused. Horrorsentience is typical of the way they procrastinate cashing on the tension that they create. Some of the shortest pieces feel like parodies of death-metal. The real deal is the ten-minute Annihilvore, where their scattered discord achieves a quasi-symphonic power. If the rest of the album is inferior to the first album, this extended sonic assault tops anything they have done before.

The mini-album Cognitive Emancipation (2016), with drummer Jason Bauers (of Psyopus) replacing Walter, is a better testament to the solidity of the trio, especially the grandiose ruined architectures of Resummon The Unreaching and of the seven-minute Cognitive Emancipation.

In fact, Bauers' eccentric "drumming" is more than a catalyst on Hapeleptic Overtrove (2020). His wood, plastic and metal percussion peppers the brief distorted vignettes (Adult Contemporary, Telepathy Apathy, Blessing In Disgust). Instead of the brainy philosophical attitude of the first two albums, this feels like a dadaist circus show. The tumult of Forgotten Explanations and Hapeleptic Perspective Respect evokes witty prog-rock of the 1970s. On the other hand, Other Realms (Instrumental) is a guitar-only inferno, which ends in electronic drones and segues into the ambient music of Perverse Esoteric Different, which after three minutes turns into an unresolved metal template: an odd combination to say the least. Ironically, it's the (prestigious) guitars that don't match the creativity of the percussionist.

Mick Barr and Marston also formed Hathenter. Marston also recorded a collaboration with Eliane Gazzard, Parallels Of Infinite Perspect (2019).

Marston also played on Jorge Elbrecht's single Coral Cross 001 (2014) and on his album Coral Cross 002 (2019), on Glyptoglossio's Yottaannums in the Byss (2019).

Interstellar Overtrove (2023) is another exercise in brainy instrumental jazztronica. The supernatural hysteria of pieces like Def Lepton is anchored to Marston's subsonic moaning, to the crystal elegance of Lerner's guitar-synth and to Bauers' fibrillating and non-rhythmic beats The more introspective and liquified cacophony of Echoes of Deletion brings out the alternate impressionist nature of their interplay, one that is not conductive to a melodic leitmotiv (with a lengthy percussive "solo" in the second half). Unfortunately in between the two poles there is music that floats unhinged in a sea of generic exhibitionism.

(Copyright © 2021 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )