This was a really difficult review to write, primarily because I enjoyed this record a lot less than I wanted to and I didn’t want to disrespect the musicians who worked on it. On the surface, Escapethecult features musicians who have worked on albums like Mer De Noms and Frizzle Fry. By that measure alone, this should be brilliant to the point of transcendent, and it’s totally not.
However, before we get into the faults, let’s celebrate the positives. The mix is sublime and the musicianship is unparalleled. You kind of expect that from a lineup like this, though, so they don’t really get any points for that. Don’t give me that look. Birds fly, fish swim, Bioware games have good dialogue, and prog musicians know their shit.
This is where things fall apart, unfortunately. Critically, they’ve failed to achieve the right atmosphere for the record, which is the most important part of any prog album. More than that, the songs don’t go anywhere. Yeah, prog is airy-fairy at the best of times, but the songs explore vast stretches of time and space, reaching into dimensions beyond our mortal comprehension. These songs, meanwhile, are like cats on weed: just kind of doddering around, meowing at their own reflection and trying to eat the linoleum floor.
I’m all for prog music. I loved Opeth‘s Heritage record and I love their Pale Communion record. I swear by Tool and Dream Theater. However, what holds Escapethecult back is exactly what plagued Karnivool‘s Asymmetry record. It doesn’t know what it wants to be or where it should be going. It just sort of does its own thing, and that lack of direction is what kills this album. It’s got its good moments, but they’re interspersed by so much filler that you can’t even appreciate them when they arrive.
However, it should be noted that I hated Mastodon‘s Once More ‘Round the Sun for the same reasons and now I love it. Further, I’ve given “All You Want To” 6/10, the equivalent of 3 stars. It’s probably the most pessimistic 3 star review I’ve ever written. It’s entirely possible that it’s just me, and if you’re a prog fan of any level, it would be worth your time to check this out. Be warned, though: it’s probably not going to be as good as you think it will be.