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Operator Generator
Polar Fleet
Man's Ruin

The Players:

Mitchell French Ė Vocals
Thomas Choi Ė Guitar
Joe Tucci Ė Bass
Michael Parkinson Ė Drums
Complaints Dept. Ė Bring the vocals forward

Before the advent of nu-metal, and itís forbears Sound Temple in Chains, there was a man of little talent and much appeal who paced the stage like a giant, chubby, three-year old grinning and lifting his arms in front of his more talented band of musicians. The less than stellar, but nonetheless more talented musicians were of course relegated to the musical history books, with the exception of being granted an occasional opportunity to join their former mate onstage, for which I am sure they are reticently grateful. While the frontman rose in fame and popularity, being very cute at trying to be foreboding he is now nothing more than a brand name and grand master at the current parade of nu-metal acts dining on his flesh.

While Operator Generator may at first glance produce a seventies brand of metal with no viable demographic, I have to hand it to them. They are surely following their vision of the way music and the world should be. Those followers of Sabbath still alive and among the general population have most certainly had their vinyl collections stored in the garage to make room for the wifeís Poe and Sublime. The single among them are set in their ways and itís doubtful they are accepting new applications. And yet, without the smirk adopted by the likes of Chevelle and Monster Magnet, here is Polar Fleet.

The chunky intro on "Equinox Planetarium" is unintentionally a heavy take on "Sweet Jane." The riffing is lethargic among occasionally truncated measures. Like the Oz, the sparse vocals stay on two or three notes, taking backseat to the sludging. They are also placed farther back in the mix than normal, which is unfortunate, as the lyrics are better than your average Linkin Park song (duh). No solo wanking, the bass mirrors the guitars, and the drums mostly follow tightly along. The Nordic track "Polar Fleet" explores the frozen tundra of the barbarians. Suitably, the music is rough-hewn and simple--mythic Scandinavian themes without the pretentious operatic screaming or blistering guitars. Thereís a bit of flavorful squawking and squealing that has a purpose. In Swedish black metal circles that would be "untrue metal." Here we call it "hey, that ainít half bad." As a death waltz, "Museumís Flight" will appeal to Tool fans. Itís less elaborate, but changes speed at several intervals. And everyone can enjoy, "Tits on a grapevine, Darvocetís red wine. An orgy in Luciferís barn." "Atmospheric Insect/The Launch" only slightly picks up the pace. Again, French is allowed a few lines like, "Experiments on larvae egg sac and the embryotic cell" to deliver between minutes of string rubbing and hair shaking. Odds are, he bides his time grimacing and pacing in reserved theatrics. The time changes are designed to re-energize the nodding flow.

Tribal beats on "Quaintance Of Natherack" lead into a bash and roll frenzy, while the guitar briefly squeals away. The progressions are simple and familiar, rhythmically stepping down and back into the grind. The force is furthered because the band is a concurrent unit. Itís all for one and no prima donnas with this crew. The exercise "Arctic Quest" is a do as I do, repeat until done correct proposition. Crunching and bashing are synchronized as they try to find the exit of each phrase. Which is the release of the nihilistic advice, "Take your bottle, drown your sorrow. Drown your face with alcohol." The call and response exchange goes Ďtil the bass carries the swagger into the lilting guitar. Thankfully, the title "Infinite Loop" is not referring to the song itself. The bash, then sing, then change time formula is still at work. The flanged guitar is and unexpected addition amidst all the mud and fuzz. Thoughtfully cryptic lyrics like, "You turn the fern to rise" should be lauded. Even with the signature variations, most of the songs sound very similar to the next, which makes the Floydian slip "Soul Of Lavamore" the most interesting tune. The subtle vocals work best here where the music is softer. The obligatory sitar is simulated by acoustic guitar overlaid by warbling electric noodling. The percussion is replaced with spacey keyboard swirls.

An interesting note that my CD player refused to play the tracks in order. Iíve discussed them as listed rather than how they appeared. I found myself enjoying Frenchís understated vocals, although they could have been more prominent. The writing is intelligent and sorrowfully poetic. The omission of most screaming guitar is refreshing, despite the lack of varied tones. The big question in this time of turntablism is whether there is room in neo-metal for neo-lithic Operator Generator. On a pre-historic scale, one being troglodytes, and ten being Tyrannosaurus Rex; "Polar Fleet" rates a six, australopithecine. After writing this, it turns out OGís website features a mastodon. Go figure.

ó Ewan Wadharmi

Track Listing:

  1. Equinox Planetarium
  2. Polar Fleet
  3. Museum's Flight
  4. Atmospheric Insect/The Launch
  5. Quaintance of Natherack
  6. Arctic Quest
  7. Infinite Loop
  8. Soil of Lavamore

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