This record is dense -- as though Hella spliced the masters with dark matter, and it's creating its own gravity well as it sits on my desk. Everything rolls toward it, and a low rumble emanates from the jewel case. Where does all this weight come from? Engineer JR Thompson recorded the drums with 18 mikes, including nine on the kick drum alone, to capture all its different resonances. This album throbs with advanced prog drumming, all odd-metered stutter-step bursts. Over top is guitarist Spencer Seim's custom nine-output, half-inch-thick electric guitar from Scott French. Each string has its own pickup, plus one in the nut, one under the bolts and one linked to an egg shaker inside the body. Seim uses nothing but a little distortion and his whacked-out French monstrosity to bust huge deedele/deedele/dee! riffs in perfect time with the amphetamine drums. New singer Aaron Ross sends goose bumps racing up your back with this high prog-metal voice, which leaves you thinking, "Rush? Les Claypool? Satan?" It's tempting to superficially dismiss this record. Don't. If ideas had weight, Outer Space would be a collapsed star. -- David Downs
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