While there may be no 666 in outer space, there are certainly now 5 members in Hella's line-up. With their first bow for Ipecac, Hella have finally made the perilous jump into the unexpected that is becoming a full-fledged 'band.' True, it'd be hard to apply the word cohesion to the frenetic blowouts that comprise this effort, but in many regards it is perhaps the most distinct change Hella have made this time around.
That and of course recruiting a previously-unknown vocalist by the name of Aaron Ross; who largely sounds like Les Claypool probably would had he been obsessed with the rocketry club rather than fishing while growing up. His decided lack of experience doesn't hinder him though, even when faced with the daunting task of singing over the music of a group like Hella. Perhaps it is even his novice perspective that allows him to build a repertoire of unconventional phrasings and vocal patterns that intrepidly weather the prog rock/free jazz cacophony contained here.
So just what its going on underneath those vocals? Well there are heroic displays of eclectic drumming virtuosity, dizzying rubbery bass lines and skittish abstract guitar all set to ludicrous speed. Surely the output of Hella is now more 'song' oriented, but it remains as inventive and as vigorous as ever. Even with a somewhat melting pot approach taken, the mass schizophrenia that would normally follow is avoided as the group sound more like a meld of King Crimson and Primus than a Behold... The Arctopus or John Zorn-led project.
As always there are those out there that will get off on the fact that Hella continue to apply a stunning amount of technical proficiency with their instruments into a musical approach that is entirely peculiar and avant-garde. But that's not to say this album also wouldn't appeal to those who've dabbled with the likes of Primus, The Fall Of Troy or even Mr. Bungle. For by stepping outside of the visage of an instrumental band, Hella have shed much of the stigma that surrounded them and subsequently hindered them from gaining a larger audience. The best part about this is that they didn't have to sacrifice any of their creativity to do it.
(4 / 5)