Well, this started off pretty normally, but quickly made its way into “HUH?!?” territory. ONE STEP BEYOND formed back in 1997, and they claimed that they wanted to form a “blend of Extreme Metal genres”: Well, everyone does. What matters is how successful they are in doing so.
“Life Imitates Art”, ONE STEP BEYOND’s debut, was first released in 2002, and in the fall of 2009 it got the reissue treatment. For a debut album it shows a lot of promise, despite being a tad unfocused.
It starts off with a very Punk-ish Death Metal vibe/attitude, with the vocalist barking and shrieking and a simple yet jagged and slightly swung (!) riff drives the beat forward...then if the span of 10 seconds, two unexpected twists pop up in the music. First, a slapped bass line adding a Funk feel to everything, and then there’s a guitar solo that sounds much like it should belong more on an up-beat Rock number than a Grindcore song. Within those ten seconds, all expectations I had about “Life Imitates Art” was blown to pieces, and I was curious to see the amount of curveballs ONE STEP BEYOND were going to throw into their music.
I was pleasantly surprised. ONE STEP BEYOND throws in a lot of interesting musical breaks and whatnot like Funk, Jazz, Hardcore and Reggae (no, I’m not joking), but it’s done with a sense of restraint and the segues into the various genres are done in an intelligent manner, and everything is smooth. Well, as smooth as a transition from a Death Metal riff to a Jazz break can be.
This being ONE STEP BEYOND’s debut album, they have still have to iron out the kinks in what they are trying to accomplish, and some of the Death Metal riffs sound a bit too contrived and plagiarized off of their predecessors for me to truly enjoy them. Also...despite the execution of the numerous style changes being very well done, the individual riffs and progressions themselves don’t really startle me with their quality. They’re not bad, but they’re not great either.
I’m generally not a fan of bands that decide to throw everything in the mix under the guise of writing something interesting, but ONE STEP BEYOND shows a lot of promise in the way they approach things.
(Online April 26, 2010)