The Reel

rating icon 7 / 10

Track listing:

01. Intro
02. Pan.Demon.Ium
03. Ash the World Turns
04. One Arm Jake
05. Pot Pie
06. Somebody Kill Don Henley
07. Spider Man Vs. Venom 2
08. La Tumba
09. Lions of Whoa
10. Angra Mainyu
11. The Reel
12. Drayton Sowyer

The Mooose has returned, extra "o" and all. When we last discussed St. Louis' VAMPIRE MOOOSE it was in the context of reviewing sophomore album "Serenade the Samurai", a muscularly percussive, aggressive collection of caustic grooves that most folks had difficulty pigeonholing, although hard core and some form of death metal were involved somewhere in the mix and vague references to the likes of CANDIRIA were dropped. On "The Reel", guitarist Brandon Manlove and bassist Al Carson have been replaced by Shawn Murray and Jeremy Hudson, respectively, but anchor and super drummer Eric Baudendistel and maniacal throat-shredder Ryan Pulliam remain, the end result a stylistically similar, though more abrasive/bludgeoning album with a few new twists.

I'm not sure "The Reel" is a better album than "Serenade the Samurai", but the elements that made the sophomore affair appealing, if not necessarily groundbreaking, are present on "The Reel". Mainly, there is just something about the way that the brand creates these obnoxiously bludgeoning body slams with early metalcore dissonance and a good deal of groove, all of which is powered by Baudendistel's behemoth drumming. If you're looking for songs with which you can sing along, then you really need to look elsewhere. The one rather odd exception is "Angra Mainyu", a kind of STATIC-X version of VAMPIRE MOOOSE that features DOG FASHION DISCO's Todd Smith. It is a little better than tolerable with its "nu" style and feels too out of place; nothing wrong with trying something different I suppose, even if it doesn't work. By contrast, the marathon length "Drayton Sowyer" that moves from TOOL-like hypnosis to moose knuckling slam, underpinned with cool tribal drum flourishes, pushes the envelope without alienating. By the way, the samples used on the album are always perfectly placed and funny as hell.

Above all else, the Moooseheads should embrace "The Reel" just like they did "Serenade the Samurai", although we'll see how "Angra Mainyu" goes over. And if VAMPIRE MOOOSE is not your thing, then you should at least be able to appreciate a band that bucks metaphor and simply titles a song "Somebody Kill Don Henley".

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