Four years have passed without so much as a single dissonant arpeggio from the band with the highest string to member ratio in NYC, Behold The Arctopus. Now, Colin Marston (Dysrhythmia, Gorguts,Krallice) and co. have returned with Cognitive Emancipation, an EP of some of the most complicated noise you’ll ever hear. Will you actually enjoy it though?
Sadly, probably not. Being a rather large fan of the Arctopus’ first two records, Nano-Nucleonic Cyborg Summoning, and Skullgrid, I was a little disappointed with 2012’s Horrorscension. Where as the first two records couched their technicality in fun, almost whimsical song writing, Cognitive Emancipation takes some of the soullessness that detracted from their last release and creates one of the most frustrating records I’ve ever listened too.
The first track, “Obnoxiousing in Irritation”, kicks in with a sense of building towards some kind of epic, 18 string climax (Marston plays a 12 string Warr Guitar while Mike Lerner plays a boring old 6-string) but fails to accomplish much besides ambling through some weird, spastic punches that feel more like algebra than music. Likewise “Exasperating the Idiotic” is complicated as fuck but after repeated listens I’m still not sure it’s a good song. It took almost two-thirds of the tracks runtime to finally find a groove with me. Unlike the vibes created on earlier albums, these first two tracks seem more like technical wankery.
Fortunately the latter half of the “Cognitive Emancipation” is more along the lines of the Arctopus I knew and loved. From the moment “Resummon The Unreaching” starts, it hits you over the head with dissonance at the speed of light and then transitions into a tapping fueled nightmarish stroll through Colin Marston’s undercut. Around the halfway mark though, the track kind of looses its footing and spends a little too long needlessly noodling its way through passages I might just not be enough of a music nerd to appreciate. However, by the time the track closes you could almost say it took you somewhere meaningful. Kind of like that fever-dream you had when you were eight.
The beginning of the closing title track sounds a lot like when you first get to band practice and everyone is just kind of dicking around on their instruments. After a while, it does shift gears into a blastastic example of what it is that made Behold The Arctopus appealing to weirdos like me in the first place. Complicated, avant-garde weirdness that would get you kicked out of even the most metal friendly parties.
Despite a lame first half and a general sense of “is that it?”, there are some moments in the later two tracks that make Cognitive Emancipation worth checking out if you already know you like the taste of Arctopus but it’s not going to make them a household name outside of their novelty. And, given how awesome the reunited Gorguts and the new Dysrhythmia are, I expected more.
Release Date: November 8th, 2016
Favorite Tracks: “Resummon The Unreaching”, “Cognitive Emancipation”
For Fans Of: Dysrhythmia, Blotted Science, Spastic Ink, Gorguts, Krallice