Tourniquet

Tourniquet

Microscopic View of a Telescopic Realm

Metal Blade

Depending on who’s listening, albums like Tourniquet’s Microscopic View of a Telescopic Realm, for better or worse, are a rare item. Right when you pop in the disc and find its 11 tracks clocking in at a staggering 71 minutes, you just know you’re going to be treading some progressive waters for the album’s duration.

Tracing a lineage from the acid-fried thrash of late-’80s Voivod to the shamefully under-appreciated Rush-sent-through-a-blender blur of Anacrusis and Cynic in the early ’90s, Tourniquet walk in metal’s no-man’s-land, where prog-rock and speed metal collide head on to sometimes convoluted, always fascinating effect – needless to say, a love-it-or-hate-it polarization, but one whose results certainly command respect. Per usual for such brain-beating fare, Tourniquet’s Microscopic View of a Telescopic Realm (the band’s first album in nearly eight years) polarizes to the fullest extent both within the genre and the context of the album itself.

The most marked – again, for better or worse – element of Microscopic View is the vocals. Handled by both Luke Easter and guitarist Aaron Guerra, with no annotation as to who handles what song, it’s difficult to discern who gets the pat on the back and who gets the slap on the wrist. On one hand, you get yer typical tech-thrash vocals: a hoarse, ball-grabbin’ bark-to-squeal, and vice-versa; DBC, Liege Lord and Excel are latter-day examples of this blight. But, on the other hand, when the riffs become more melodic than rhythmic and follow or expand the melody more, the vocals drastically improve, namely because they’re sung. And when the two vocal styles are counter-balanced, it all becomes more stomachable.

Which isn’t to say that Tourniquet has nothing to recommend them musically – quite the opposite, actually. Snake-like, their songs twist and turn every which way, but the structures flow rather ebulliently, riffs racing and punishing at one moment, twinkly quasi-fusion guitars floating down from the ether the other moment. Despite the seemingly exorbitant running time, Tourniquet play songs, unlike the standard tech-thrash mode of cramming multitudinous riffs together and calling them otherwise – little stop-on-a-dime-and-go-somewhere-else chops-showboating here. Also, unlike such fare, Tourniquet can capably groove at slower tempos, as they do on “Caixa de Raiva” and “Servant of the Bones.” However, one caveat emptor is the decidedly Christian-themed lyrics, which often border on preachy cheez, especially during the laughable a cappella intro to “The Tomb of Gilgamesh.”

Sadly, Microscopic View will probably go unappreciated due to the current metal-marketing trends of black metal and power metal. But for those curious onlookers searching for brainiac metal that’s more compelling than convoluted, the album should provide ample headbanging.

Metal Blade Records, 2828 Cochran St., Suite 302, Simi Valley, CA 93065-2793; http://www.metalblade.com

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