Subterranean Masquerade

Suspended Animation Dreams

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What seemed like a great idea on Subterranean Masquerade's pint-sized debut EP, Temporary Psychotic State: applying the "everything but the kitchen sink" approach of progressive rock to psychedelic waffling, gothic vocalizing, and heavy metal crunch -- proves a little too much to stomach on their sprawling full-length, Suspended Animation Dreams. With the exception of a few, regular-sized tracks that mostly sound unfinished (or perhaps, in retrospect, were mere leftover passages), the album is comprised mostly of ill-defined epics, seemingly built specifically to convey the band's versatility via the juxtaposition of polar musical styles. Thus, psychedelic whimsy leads into doom metal fury, leads into lounge piano swing, leads into dreamy folk-rock, leads into darkwave negativity, leads into mournful hick harmonica, leads into orchestrated string sections, etc., etc. -- progressive enough for you? If not, perhaps the marriage of Bedouin chants and gypsy strings closing "No Place Like Home" will tip the scales, or certainly the snazzy saxophone solo backing Cookie Monster grunts on "The Rock N Roll Preacher." Curiously, the band's death growls actually sound much more convincing than the deadpan baritones and conversational narrations spread throughout these songs, confirming the notion that both vocals and the frequently nonsensical lyrics they decry are truly the album's weakest link. And ultimately, although it's hard to knock Subterranean Masquerade for trying to create truly unpredictable music, this widespread lack of cohesion winds up diluting their impact and leaves only fascinating moments amidst the generalized chaos.

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