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
- Equinox Planetarium
- Polar Fleet
- Museum's Flight
- Atmospheric Insect/The Launch
- Quaintance of Natherack
- Arctic Quest
- Infinite Loop
- Soil of Lavamore
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