Criminal Caterpillar – Thanatos and the Archangel

I can’t say I liked this all that much, but that’s really only a matter of personal interest. This isn’t bad music in any way. These guys put serious effort into this and it’s a concept album (the abstract is in their bandcamp page), which is also kind of cool and an extra reason to be interested.

First, why would you like this. It has a progressive feel to it, if you can imagine something like “progressive pop rock”. There’s plenty of detail and subtle, wankery musical ideas behind it. These guys are all great musicians in a “Sting backing band” way (specially in the first half). In the eighth track, “Thanatos III: Cold Clutches of a Blackened Hand “, for example, the intro riffs have a prog metal feel, but unfortunately they don’t really go anywhere. So if you are so much into cool musical ideas that you can even enjoy instrumental prog metal and such, you will find something to please you here. It even sounds like Pink Floyd at some points, so yeah, it’s musically interesting.

Now why it’s not that good, or at least why I don’t like it that much. Most of the time it has a pop rock feel that comes mostly from the main singer, maybe he just sings too well (kind of a pop rock Celine Dion). The lyrics are corny (“but then a feather falls down the river”, “we won the war” etc.), but they are not as bad as King Crimson’s lyrics, so that’s not really important. I think these guys could do much better with the sheer musical ability they have. I don’t think the music fits the concept of the album as well, and the lyrics might also be too pretty for the stated concept. So yeah, maybe the concept thing didn’t work that well, it doesn’t fit the singing, the lyrics and the atmosphere of it. All of this could be remedied by pure, tear-shedding prettiness, but I didn’t really find that, unfortunately.

So, what does the previous paragraph really mean? It means that this would be better with half as much lyrics, which means half as much singing, but whatever stayed, should have twice as much drama and meaning. I’m stealing this directly from Verdi now, but it’s really a great advice he gave to his libretto writer. There were probably some great lines in there that I lost because this guy is speaking so much, he simply can’t stop talking. You are no Dylan, it’s not like every line is interesting. At the same time, the music would be better if it had more insane, over the top, convince your mother that it’s good, awesomeness. I know these guys can pull it off, they just need riffs complex enough to be discernible from the previous song’s riffs.

-Carpeaux

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