The Guf

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An independent release -- as was their 1998 debut, the limited-issue Demolition Superprize -- 2002's The Guf is a far more imposing record than its minimal title may indicate. Whatever traces of country-rock may have been present in Wormbelly's origins have been replaced here with a saturated, undeniably prog rock sound. The Guf is densely constructed; most of its tracks are overproduced, particularly "Slingshot," and the lyrics are easily lost amidst the sonic maelstrom. Their vision is oddly broad: At times they want to be Jellyfish vocally; at other times they carry the overarching "concept" ambitions of early-'90s Queensr├┐che and Savatage. However, Marillion is probably the only remotely "contemporary" band whose musical output compares to this overly busy album. Wormbelly loves time signature changes and gleefully inserts drum fills wherever humanly possible, but it's not hard to feel overwhelmed when listening to a song like "Cemetery Girl," which could have radio potential if it weren't so densely packed. But it must be said that their musicianship on this album is intricate and masterful, and the violin accompaniment and piano outro on "Tell Me Nothing" are nothing short of elegant.

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