Art is full of artists clamouring for your attention whilst allowing themselves the conceit of feigning disdain for commercialisation and popularity. Very worthy they all are too but the reality is that no matter how 'out there' artists would like to be regarded, none can deny that when the rent needs paying and you've got to eat, the Yankee dollar can shout very loudly indeed. A good example is this interesting little album.
'Grind The Ocean', The Safety Fire's debut long player, is a 47 minute chunk of what can only be described as musical disruption. An annoyed mix of predominantly screaming hardcore and sporadic jazz, to some it might be regarded as alt Metal, others will see it as progressive Metal. Maybe these boys would prefer to be regarded as avant-garde. Free form Metal jazzcore anyone?
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Whichever, it seems the band would rather pander to its own cleverness than create a piece of art that might actually sell. As soon as it realises it's in a groove, off it goes somewhere else and woe betide any listener who manages to slip inside the album willing to be immersed in the music because instead they will just get a damn good kicking for daring to be there.
Throughout there are short sections of tranquillity, the Yes like 'Seagraves', 'Anomolous Materials' (should that be Anomalous?) and parts of the title track that are bookended by the Metal heart of the album. It turns in an instant from full on Heavy Metal madness to thoughtful serenity, throwing in jazzy guitar passages before it jumps back into scream Metal.
Apparently the band has a reputation for stretching and testing the boundaries of technical and progressive Metal. Well, 'Grind The Ocean' certainly tries and is an involving listen but the band needs to decide what it wants to do: make music that people will buy, or remain very 'out there' and hungry.
The band should really have taken their best ideas and honed them but instead they have thrown everything into 'Grind The Ocean', ultimately resulting in a schizophrenic pastiche that lacks a hook.
So, is 'Grind The Ocean' a contender for album of the year as others have suggested? Er, no I don't think so. Does the band need to learn to properly work an idea? It would seem so. Does the band need to find a better balance between artistic bloody mindedness and commercial viability? Yes it does. Will your neighbours find it very annoying? Oh fuck yes.
If you like your music to be complicated and chaotic then this album will suit you down to the ground. It might even prove perfect as a soundtrack to the inner workings of your own mind. It is, however, a slow burner that might be worth investing in. As the listener, all you have to do is supply lots of patience.