It’s good to see Behold… The Arctopus reach this point in their evolution. Not to say that they’re any less crazy than they were before—the New York-based technical metalheads have been pushing their genre’s boundaries since day one—but there is a definite reevaluation of approach on Skullgrid, their first proper full-length on Black Market/Metal Blade, following the reissue of Nano-Nucleonic Cyborg Summoning last year.
You can even see it in their song titles, not that they mean a whole lot to the instrumental trio—“You Are Number Six,” vague reference to “The Prisoner” or not, is a tad more refined than “You Will Be Reincarnated As An Imperial Attack Spaceturtle.” Not to take anything away from spaceturtles, of course.
But in particular, the song structuring on BTA’s latest is, dare we say, poppy. That’s not entirely true, but there is a much greater emphasis on melody and harmony than before, and there’s a distinct dearth of straight muddy doom-scape breakdowns that they would so lovingly serve up on their early material. Instead, there’s a greater emphasis on jazzy interpretations of experimental metal, with fast bebop derived sections, serialism-derived sections, additive beats, and a penchant for unresolved chords.
Basically, it’s a long-time before you wrap your brain around this. Thirty three minutes of the densest stuff you’ll hear all year.