A comeback for 90s prog heroes Galactic Cowboys, championed by many of their peers, including the foghorn of prog himself, Mike Portnoy. As someone completely new to this band, I can't help but initially be confused about the influences mentioned in many of their write ups online... Anthrax and Jellyfish... power pop and thrash... what? Okay... Now you have my attention.
'In the Clouds' is a doomy opener and has a classic grunge era production to match. It's very raw and uninviting to the general listener. Some incredibly dissonant harmonies are rolled out in the chorus and I can hear some of the go to influences sprawling slowly out. The following track 'Internal Masquerade' opens with a powerful riff that stabs at harmonics along a driving 80s metal verse somehow paves the way for yup... now I get it; Jellyfish style harmonies. Beautiful. An unexpected but welcome change in the chorus; disparate but exciting.
URRRGHHH.... An 'orrible riff opens up 'Blood In My Eyes' and we get a glimpse of the groovier side of the band. The production here really highlights the performance of the band. Nothing sounds replaced. It all sounds like a band in a room (I may be wrong). It's just full of energy that I don't hear in many modern productions. It's not rigid like you come to expect with most prog albums.
'Next Joke' is a straight ahead rock song with a lot of hooks. Seems a little misplaced in comparison to the previous three tracks. Fighting 'Zombies' day and night... come on guys. Toto have written better lyrics than that. I am disappointed. This album is going downhill... such a great start. It's a shame because it arguably has one of the best choruses on the record but the scream of the word of “Zombies” at the end of the song killed my perception of the chorus.
'Drama' brings us back to what I loved about the start of the album. The juxtaposition between unrelenting heavy meets power pop melody and harmony. Definitely single material. 'Amisarewas'... yeah literally no idea what that word is either. This song has a much more traditional prog feel, reminds me of early Coheed and Cambria at points. The singer's voice is powerful and at its best here, he is left to breathe within the song and it shows.
The aptly titled 'Hate Me' is just an angry bitch of a metal song. Nothing more to it than that. Riffs and anger. Done. The main guitar hook on' Losing Ourselves' is very nu metal and blindingly bland for a band that seem to be able to expertly craft much more interesting things than this compositionally.
If I could show you one song to give you an idea of the Galactic Cowboys sound, I would show you 'Agenda' it has the perfect balance of heavy metal and blissful pop melodies. It's infectious and a defining sound for the band. It's where they excel.
Final track 'Long Way Back to the Moon' is an underwhelming end to what could have redeemed this album.
I think it's brilliant when bands dare to be different and I have nothing but respect for that here. It truly is an original sounding record. Does that mean it's brilliant? Not to me. There may be some nostalgia here for people who heard the band first time round.
There were brilliant moments on this record and some frankly incredible ones too but it really was a mesh of ideas that I don't feel coherently brought together a good album.
Still completely worth checking out! Buy it now!
In The Clouds
Blood in My Eyes
Long Way Back To The Moon
Check them out on their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/galacticcowboys/