The five-year delay between December and Aperture can be blamed on -- you guessed it -- industry woes. Though recorded during 1990 and 1991, IPR head Bruce Licher spent a fair amount of time shopping for a new manufacturer and distributor, which proved to be no easy task. Despite remaining involved with Licher, a new manager helped arrange a deal with Dutch East India, who took over for the unsatisfying Chameleon Music Group. So the band's third LP didn't see the light of day until 1993. Aperture falters in the loss of guitar wizard Harry Dingman and somewhat lackluster and formulaic songwriting. The trebly production -- Jeffrey Runnings' vocals could pierce sensitive ears -- is tough to get through, and only penetrable after several listens. Some of the songs sound like rough demos, too. Dingman and December drummer Greg Hill split to form the Millions after the band's most stunning outing, replaced by drummer Paul Engelhard and less showy and less chilly guitarist Steven "Mave" Hinrichs. Though Hinrichs can't quite match Dingman's mastery, his work here is in the same fashion as his predecessor, as is the playing of Runnings, who switched over to guitar briefly here. (Bass was supplied by Jeff Gaskins, who is clearly not on the level of Runnings.) With the lineup shuffling and other detracting factors, Aperture is a step backward -- an album that sounds like it should have come out earlier in the band's career. But back to the songwriting: If you listen to the first two seconds of each song, you'll hear vocals in seven of the album's 11 tracks. A bizarre development, given the band's knack of instrumental prowess that's just as capable of creating affecting moods without Runnings' vocals as it is with. Runnings' lyrics are no problem, though -- he branches out with his subjects, spewing venom at major labels on "Spent" with just as much vigor as he does at scorned lovers. "Mindframed" features some of Runnings' most gentle vocals, foreshadowing his increasing ability to effectively melt his vocals into the instrumentation. With titles like "Don't Do Me Any Favors" and "Nightmare Life," you can tell he's swimming in the same tortured waters as always, which is just fine -- he's one of the best at it. So all in all, Aperture is not a total loss, but certainly not one of For Against's better moments. Blame it on its transitional nature.
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AllMusic Review by Andy Kellman