THE SCHOENBERG AUTOMATON
The Schoenberg Automaton (2010)
Australia, Myriad Records, Technical Death Metal
I have to say, I’m lost for words here. I realise that saying that I have to say that I don’t know what to say is oxymoronic to any end, but the notion of not saying anything is ridiculous in this circumstance, as is the aforementioned paradox of craving chance to exclaim that there’s nothing worthwhile to say. In hindsight of this, it would be more productive to mention that there’s nothing to mention, since not mentioning anything because there’s nothing to mention is unremarkably remarkable, leaving just a title because there’s nothing worthwhile stating, even though I feel at a position to say that there’s nothing to say.
Still with me? Good. If you understood what I just said in that last paragraph, you should be adequately prepared for this, the first EP in EP’s Mayhem to have been released by a record label!
Seriously though, music of this nature requires a trained ear. Said ear doesn’t need to be trained so much to the heaviness. This EP isn’t the most brutal out there, those who frequent Hot Topic could probably survive the timbre at a stretch. What you need to be trained aurally to do is to understand WHAT IN THE NAME OF CTHULU IS GOING ON HERE!!
The lyrics are abstract beyond recognition. Let me give you an example from the equally abstract-titled opener, The Woodhouse Sakati Syndrome:
“Righteous, you uphold appeal but face a brick
Gritted teeth, they glisten with spit
They emanate an ethic that will bring on war”
Just a quick example I know, there’s no point in showing more lyrics, since the syllables are utterly indecipherable. I think the lyrics seem to stretch into the realms of existentialism, and I’d be sat here all night typing if I was asked to describe my opinions on them. The song titles are just as abstract; the other two songs on this EP are called Pineapple Juice and the Tough Stuffed Olive, and Where Are We, in a Cube?.
Now, let’s get down to the music. Musically, The Schoenberg Automaton encompasses both musical genius and mental deficiency. At the same time, naturally. The timeframes are just plain ridiculous, some poor sap on YouTube was brave enough to piece apart the first song into its time signatures, and resulted with 5/4, 3/4, 5/4, 4/4, 3/8, 5/4, 3/4, 9/8 x4, 13/8, 15/16, 6/8 x2, 7/8, 13/8… etc.
Now, it’s apparent that the lyrics are intelligently abstract, and the members are all very knowledgeable about music and able to keep in time with each other very well. This is worth some commendment, no doubt. I’ve seen many worse bands. However, I feel that the timeframe changes are nothing more than a gimmick, accounting for the rests which serve only to hyperbolize the use of irregular and inconsistent metre. If the music is free metre, i.e. no set time signature, that shouldn’t be overemphasized by rests, unless you know that your band can really pull it off.
I also feel that the music just isn’t technical enough. Some may criticise me for saying this, but this is (supposed to be) technical death metal, in which musical technicality should be a paramount issue in songwriting to time signature wankery. I just find that the actual music itself is not actually technical, but simply an agglomeration of odd numerators over a basic denominator, all falling over each other in a drunken heap.
In conclusion, I’m more than torn here. It’s a tantamount concept to point out flaws as it is to commend areas deserving of praise. So I shall say that the lyrics are very intellectual, but the riffs are the sorts that I could improvise through on Guitar Pro in about 5 minutes.