The End Records sure has expanded its horizons lately. Check their roster and you'll see a half ton of bands that do not fit their old mold of "really awesome Progressive Metal (that doesn't rip off DREAM THEATER!) with an avantgarde bent". Instead, THE END has recently been focusing on bands that release albums that sound as if they could have been penned by Mike Patton (and a bit of Post-Rock too). One of these bands is STOLEN BABIES, and I'm going to tell you about their album now.
"There Be Squabbles Ahead" is a macabre yet strangely innocent affair. It's like the little girl with the red curls and the big smile that secretly tortures animals when no one is looking. It's Tim Burton, Disney, David Lynch and maybe a bit of Itchy and Scratchy. This album is full of temper tantrums, grotesque carnival music, and some really intense parts that border between Punk, Metal, Hardcore, and just plain noise. Vocalist Dominique Persi sings, croons, cries, and shrieks over a twisted panoply of upright bass, keyboards, drums and guitar. Listening to this is like listening to one of Grimm's Fairy Tales run filtered through the mind of H.R. Giger.
That all being said, I'm ambivalent toward this release. Sometimes, I listen to it and it strikes me as absolutely genius, with a mix of catchy twistedness and blistering aggression. On other occasions, I hear nothing but another in a long line of MR. BUNGLE rip-offs, including bands like SLEEPYTIME GORILLA MUSEAM, DOG FASHION DISCO, TUB RING, ESTRADASPHERE, SECRET CHIEFS 3, etc. That might be too harsh - after all, a noticable influence doesn't equal plaguerism, but you know, I get a little irritated sometimes when bands that claim to champion creativity end up sounding so similar. But I digress. Yes, this is good and if my description of the album sounds like something you'd be into, you'll probably love it. But if you have thoughts like mine, regarding the oversaturation of Avantgarde acts that really aren't all that different, you might want to sample before you buy.
(Online December 7, 2006)