There is a tendency for any Metal band with a keyboard to go ahead and label itself “Progressive,” “Avant-garde,” or any other categorization that signifies the group as being unique. At this point in its career, ATROX straddles the boundary between something truly original and just another Metal band with Industrial undertones and electronic beats scattered hither and thither. After spending much of their history sounding like late-period ARCTURUS with a female vocalist (not a bad thing, certainly), ATROX now have a male lead singer and, on their latest album Binocular, are devoting much of their energies to creating catchy songs as well as mind-bending ones.
The band describes itself as “Schizo” Metal, a portrayal that is apt for perhaps more reasons than the members intend. On songs such as “Transportal,” for example, the music switches from regular, beat-driven synths and guitars to insane, spastic rhythms for no discernable reason. During these instances, it might be more accurate to call ATROX Dissociative Identity Metal. Since the band seems dedicated to merging a variety of sounds (which is most welcome), it would far better serve the music if these incongruent elements were blended together with greater subtlety. The way "Binocular" is structured, the music seems more haphazard than anything truly bizarre or groundbreaking, which is regrettable.
The fortunate fact remains that ATROX is good at both straightforward Metal-influenced music as well as left-field eccentricities. Even when a particular song contains what, by all rights, is really bits of three different songs thrown together, each of those individual parts is enjoyable on its own. The multiple personalities of the album also generate a fringe benefit: the diversity of sound present on "Binocular" prevents the music from becoming tired after repeat listens. Of course, if this very genre annoys the listener that is a moot point, but hopefully the wide variety of stylistic changes on the record will get an equally wide a variety of people to give "Binocular" a chance. Besides, any album that has samples of Charlton Heston screaming “you maniacs!” and “damn you all to Hell!” from Planet of the Apes in its opening track has something going for it.
(Online May 21, 2008)