||BOTCH "An anthology of dead ends" (mcd)
Botch are one band that will be sorely missed by avid noise freaks like myself. Words like "genius" get thrown around a lot, but these guys may well have deserved such a label. Even in a somewhat crowded noisecore/math-metal field (think Meshggah, the Dillinger Escape Plan, Burnt By the Sun, Converge, Coalesce, etc.), they more than managed to stake out their own ground during their all-too-brief career. Their inventiveness was immense, their songwriting ability limitless, and their musicianship nothing short of incredible. And they left us with a classic valedictory in the form of "An Anthology of Dead Ends."
What has always struck me first when listening to Botch is that utterly amazing guitar sound that Dave Knudson so effortlessly conjured up. Conventional riffage is almost nowhere to be found here; in its place is one of the most mind-warping displays of technical wankery in recent history. Knudson cranks out an unpredictable onslaught of astringent noise that lends itself perfectly to the band's freeform song structures without ever going over the top. Throw in some fearsome, screamed vocals and drumming that's all over the map and you've got everything noisecore is supposed to be on one little 20-minute disc.
Since the opener "Spaim" is only about 10 seconds long and the closing "Micaragua" is more or less a filler track tacked on at the end, the meat of this disc is found in the middle four songs. The first three, "Japam," "Framce," and "Vietmam," are all sonic roller coasters, suddenly shifting form just as you're starting to get a grasp of what's going on. "Japam" is probably the most fascinating, brilliantly exploiting dynamics as it slows down and speeds up for a true mental bludgeoning. "Framce" provides convincing proof of Knudson's spastic fretboard mastery, while "Vietmam" boasts a time signature that you'd have to send away to NASA to calculate.
What's more, after these three sonic brain-teasers the guys throw a major curveball in the form of "Afghamistam," a slow, eerie seven-minute mini-epic that actually demonstrates a keen grasp of melody and atmosphere. The vocals are all sung cleanly, and done very well if I do say so myself.
Perhaps the highest compliment I can pay to this CD is to say that I've listened to it about fifty times in the past three months, and I'm still picking up new details. If you're a fan of noisy, abrasive music, "An Anthology of Dead Ends" is a must. And while you're at it, pick up "We Are the Romans" as well.