It's a case of two steps forward, one step back for CACATOPIA, after their previous demo you would hope for progression and there certainly is, however, there are still areas of concern.
Smacking you in the face like a wet haddock is the change in the guitar, it scratches and scours its way throughout this demo, permanently abrasive and often phosphorous, it really ranks as the biggest plus for the demo. Like a kid with ADHD it constantly fidgets and pokes around where it shouldn't and therefore gets under your skin, though unlike the little snotster, this needling is welcome. There are sections where the lead appears unsupported by a rhythm guitar and you can feel the loss, when it is present CACATOPIA are are much stronger prospect, more the mutt's nuts than a puppy trying to please.
Providing a foundation and also trying with little success to corral the guitar are the bass and drums, the former adds bread to the broth, providing a rounded rumble to balance the spit of its cousin, it certainly adds depth that what's required to anchor the guitar to earth otherwise who knows where it'll skitter off to. So the bass benefits the demo then, which is not so certain an assertion with the drums. I can live quite happily with programmed drums, in fact with some bands I prefer them, unfortunately on “Demo 2009” they lack the emphasis that would give this effort a further lift. On the bands last album I said the drums were too upfront, here the mix is just about right but half the “kit” sounds too mechanistic given the flare of the guitar and furthermore lacks punch other than when fills and rolls sweep in.
Another improvement is the vocals, gone is the mike gobbling and now they are more balanced and more confident, it's the same feral snarl but now they sound like they've got you marked down for dinner rather than the fetch-the-ball trying too hard of before. The songs are altogether more adventurous too, there's plenty of ideas gone into this and it shows that the potential remains and what's more it's a climbing curve. Though CACATOPIA's core sound remains tethered in the 90's, the leash is showing signs of wear, such that they've managed to stretch it sufficient to demonstrate a contemporary edge, even a hint of the avant garde.
This demo has its faults but overall it brims with promise, the band aren't that far off the mark, certainly a spirited human drummer would work much better alongside such a caustic guitar but otherwise they're only a gnat's nad off something worth dipping your bread in.
(Online June 16, 2010)