Surrounded by Monsters

Novella

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Denton, Texas' Surrounded by Monsters clearly don't think much of their neighbors...and the feeling is probably mutual. Biographical info supporting their 2012 debut for Nuclear Blast, Novella, insists the sextet is equally influenced by hardcore proggies Glassjaw, math metal eccentrics the Dillinger Escape Plan, and, uh, Radiohead, but let's just say the last leg of that tripod is stretching things a bit. Yes, "Daydreamer," "You Dirty Rat," and other tunes interrupt their regular exceedingly violent programming with occasional alien synthesizers and timid murmurs from female participant Traci Pason. Another, "Sending the Wolf," runs away with the circus alongside Tom Waits on accordion (not, like, literally), but to call any of these developments anything but momentary diversions would be misleading -- especially since the contrasts they aspire to typically seem awkward and forced, rarely meshing as desired (notable exception: "Chapter 1: Transgression"). At the end of the day, Novella largely offers run-of-the-mill 2010s deathcore in naturally convoluted tracks such as "Dr. Phuck," "Ask Mr. Owl," and "73" -- all of them filled with gnarly twists and turns, yes, technically proficient, sure, but run-of-the-mill nonetheless. Good luck explaining that album title to the neighbors....

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