I Am Jim Jones

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A few years of regular gigs, rehearsals, and living in the same house provided Richmond, VA's Cassius with an ideal musical boot camp, because 2007's I Am Jim Jones displays more instrumental prowess and arranging audacity than most debut releases. The instrumental "Semitone" sets the album on course for an Isis-like journey, but ensuing numbers like "Homeauxthug," and "Deadbeat" actually offer brief and explosive metallic hardcore, replete with sudden breakdowns and semi-mathematical arrangements à la the Acacia Strain and A Life Once Lost. Still resisting easy categorization, though, "Skingraft" sees the band adding black metal speed runs, while "Belle Gunness" includes harmonic Scandinavian death metal riffs and (along with the fearsome "Funeral March") visits the unparalleled brutality and deep-gurgled vocals of grindcore. Further instrumentals like the gentle atmospheric piece "Elate and Subtract" and the rather aimless guitar layering exercise "Harmony" round out the band's restless stylistic explorations with results that sound typically detached from the surrounding material, but they do speak volumes about Cassius' versatility -- if not their focus. Ultimately, instrumental and arranging versatility is definitely Cassius' greatest strength at this stage, since their songwriting could stand to see some extra seasoning before measuring up -- not an inconceivable notion given the band's precocious abilities.

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