Unorthodox Creative Criteria
posted on 1/2006 By:
After being impressed by 2000's Genesis, I’ve been on the lookout for the new effort from Chile’s Coprofago. And I am not a patient man. After a lengthy recording hiatus, the band returned last year with Unorthodox Creative Criteria on Sekhmet Records, but unfortunately the album had no US distribution. Thankfully Canada’s Galy Records recently began distributing the album throughout the Americas. All this waiting, worsened by reading the few but overwhelmingly positive reviews for this album, has only piqued my interest in this promising band. The early word on the album was true--the band has progressed and grown during the years since Genesis. On the flip side–progression doesn’t always equate with improvement.
Coprofago plays an accomplished style of technical metal that borrows liberally from Meshuggah and Cynic. The likelihood of metalheads embracing such highly derivative bands typically depends on their view of the influencing bands and the quality of the band in question. You’ll have to answer the first part of that question yourself, but I can assure you that Coprofago has the second part well covered. You can’t throw a rock without hitting a band of middling Meshuggah worshipers, and Cynic has no doubt spawned an outgrowth of niche jazzy metal. But Coprofago captures the style and quality of these two progenitors as well as any band you’ll hear. This means that they have the technical and creative talent to pull it off without sounding like garage dwelling cover artists. It helps also helps that they’ve branched from a single influence to two different but compatible styles. Unorthodox Creative Criteria is an impressive album, and my criticisms aren’t so much about who influenced Coprofago, as they are about how those influences are balanced.
The early stages of Unorthodox Creative Criteria emphasize the technical, lurching post-thrash brought to prominence by Meshuggah. Coprofago has the style down pat–from the bone crushing polyrhythms and gut punch low end riffing to skittering solos and roaring vocals. On tracks like opener “Crippled Tracker” and “The Inborn Mechanics”, which also has a vague Pantera element, this band just flat out smokes. The album benefits from a much better production than the self released Genesis received, and the band seems to have grown in confidence and ambition. During the first half of the album they scatter the occasional jazzy interlude within their typical oppressive mathematic truculence. They are able to do so with a minimum of seams, and the technical dynamics serve the songs well. Where the band has stumbled with Unorthodox Creative Criteria is by leaving the second half of the so heavily weighted with jazzy fusion metal, at the expense of the visceral approach of the first half. The majority of the last seven of the thirteen total tracks on the album are spacey, Cynic inspired, largely instrumental songs, some of which are jazz metal and some just the opposite. Ironically, this problem was significantly exacerbated by the three bonus tracks scattered on the second half of this version of the album. Admittedly, I have a clear preference for the Meshuggah influenced material, but regardless, the album is somewhat imbalanced. Coprofago plays both styles very well; I’d just like to see them better integrated. Album closer “Wavelength”, while not my favorite track, is the one that comes closest to giving equal time to each approach.
Unorthodox Creative Criteria shows that although originality isn’t necessarily included among Coprofago’s numerous strong suits, they have more than enough in their corner to make them one of the more interesting technical metal bands. The somewhat divided nature of the album makes me wonder if this isn’t a transition album for them. I haven’t heard their first album, but the band has certainly pushed the fusion element of their sound since Genesis. I’d like to see them hang on to both sides of their sound and keep them as intermingled as possible. Very good band, very good album. Even so, I was hoping for slightly more.
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