Release DetailsLABEL Supernova Records
RELEASED ON 10/30/2007
The Orange Man Theory
Riding A Cannibal Horse From Here To...
posted on 2/2008 By:
Let me be straight and honest with you for a second. I've written this review three times and my flu-raddled brain just can't seem to come to terms with the fact that I don't like The Orange Man Theory's Riding A Cannibal Horse From Here To... because, well, I've heard too many bands that sound like them. Is that fair? I don't think so. I feel like I can't give you an accurate review because of my personal bias. I know, it's a little strange for a critic to admit that, but, hey, I'm doing it. The reason I'm brining all of this up is because of my struggles with this question: Can a reviewer have too much exposure to a genre to properly review it? After hitting the backspace so many times, I'm starting to lean towards yes. I've listened to so much of this type of noisy metalcore that degrees of good and bad have been lost and I now rate albums on a strictly pass/fail grading criteria that more or less looks works like this:
Q. Does the album in question add anything to the genre that I haven't heard before?
A. If yes, pass. If no, fail.
That's kind of it. But, then, even taking a step outside of myself and trying to listen to Riding A Cannibal Horse From Here To... like I was a newbie, like I was fresh and untainted by the best and the rest, I can't seem to get passionate about it for two very important reasons: One, it's incredibly average (Problem: is this rating based on my previous experience, though? Argh! Philosophical nightmare commence!) and, two, it's incredibly obnoxious.
Oh, everything is fine on the surface. I mean, a cursory listen will provide you with enough information to let you be more than sure that Riding A Cannibal Horse From Here To... is a pretty typical rock-infused, noise-interested core. There's a strong focus on recycled garage rock riffing, a few clever tempo changes here and there, some light genre jumping, and a penchant for discordance and dissonant chords. But, the longer and, more importantly, the deeper you listen, the more things grate on your nerves. The obvious example of this is the guitar tone. It is, without a doubt, awful. Need a bad analogy for that to hit home? Here you go: It's like a persistent bee at a picnic; only a mild irritant in the beginning, but it just...never...leaves and once you've recognized that the flying intruder is the source of your annoyance, that unbearable bastard's buzz becomes the center of your world and nothing else matters. It's then that you realize that you must smite the fucker. Soon, you find yourself running through the park in hot pursuit; naked, bloody and with a broken oar in hand. Hell, you'll even start chanting bee-based death threats ("You can't spell Bzzzz without Zzzz! It's time to go to sleep forever, bastard!"). I've been that guy and I can honestly say that the tone is that bad and I'm sure that wasn't a mistake. Why? Because, The Orange Man Theory has a streak in them that's pure punk attitude, this snotty side that turns what could've been a handful of half-decent tracks into an aggravatingly immature experience that's not worth taking on if you're over the legal drinking age.
Any highlights, then? Well, there's a couple, and they all come from Today is the Day's Steve Austin. Not only does his guest screaming performance on the album's final track show why it's important to have a strong charismatic vocalist fronting your band (for this reason alone, it's Riding's best moment), but, speaking in terms of clarity, this is some of the best sounding production work I've heard from Austin. I don't think bands and labels bring Steve in because of a want for high fidelity recordings, though (I mean, there's a reason why his stuff keeps getting remastered). He's there because he's able to coax top-notch aggressive performances out of the bands he works with. For some reason, he doesn't here. The Orange Man Theory just doesn't sound interested beyond trying to sound annoying (Part of my notes for this album: "It's like a delicious doughnut with the most annoying glaze possible. Chocolate meets pickled yams. Jesus."). That young band hunger is missing and is replaced with this cocky overconfidence (Think Daughters' stage shtick). It just sounds forced. But, then, I don't know if that's largely because I've heard too much of this stuff and I'm just filling in the blanks with my own bias because, well, I don't like it and I've, uh, heard it...a lot. In the end, if it's my job as a reviewer to point you towards the best metal for your buck, to help you wade through the unending amount of label spread bullshit, and give you a solid, no-nonsense recommendation, then I can tell you this: save your ten bucks. But, really, I'd rather you use me as just another stepping stone to come to your own conclusion. Check it out, it can't hurt. Oh, you could be annoyed, surely, but it can't hurt.
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