Release DetailsLABEL Abacus Recordings
RELEASED ON 9/9/2003
posted on 8/2003 By:
Imagine walking into your local record store and seeing none other than your grandfather browsing the metal section with a few Deicide CDs in his hand. On one hand, you think "what the fuck?"; on the other hand, you think it's pretty friggin' cool. This is basically how I felt while listening to the debut full-length from Southern California's Radiation 4. Their album Wonderland is most reminiscent of avant-garde hardcore acts like The Dillinger Escape Plan, and in particular, the DEP release with Mike Patton (ex-Faith No More, Fantomas/Tomahawk) on vocals, although, their sound is like Dillinger turned down at about 75% intensity. Equally spastic and serene, Wonderland defies genre labels. Chris Negrete's vocals are all over the map, mostly consisting of a higher-pitched, screamed delivery or death growl, but alternating with more-clean styles that evoke Devin Townsend (Strapping Young Lad) and Serj Tankian (System of a Down). I could be wrong though - one of the other members may do one of these vocals. Unconventional riffage is the order of the day, with electronic effects successfully thrown in. The production job of Matt Bayles is commendable, with all instruments getting their due space in the mix. The opening track is an odd choice, as it's an eerie tune, with haunting vox like Chino Moreno (Deftones), and an atmospheric lead guitar. Next up is a crazy track, "Tick, Tock, Tick", that most brings to mind DEP, like a jazz musician with epilepsy. A dynamic vocal attack helps to make this short song really work you over. "Love Through Tapeworms" begins frantic, and then a middle break brings in a totally-unexpected, operatic female voice to provide atmosphere, before closing out in screamo fashion - screamed vox and emotional chord-driven music. "Wonderland", the song, has a sweet progressive riff to open it up. “Magnolia Act 1” features excellent guitar work, hitting highs right where they need to be, and Negrete's screams really come across well here. Radiation 4 is one of those bands that a lot of people will brush off as being too hectic or not straightforward enough, while another subset of people will find them to be amazing. Where I stand, I like this style of music, but I don't crave it often. Wonderland is a well-done album of experimental metal/hardcore that fans of the style should dig. The only issue I have is with the album's brevity - about half an hour of actual music. If you ever wondered what it'd taste like to put death metal, hardcore, emo (guitars only, no whiny vox), atmospheric, and experimental/progressive music in a big blender, then check out Radiation 4.
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