Coming back from an extended break seems to be always tricky, for any band. Back in the late '80s and early '90s, Blind Idiot God were releasing great record after great record. Their refreshing style and no boundaries approach to mixing different genres under their unique kaleidoscope resulted in three excellent albums. The band officially went in hiatus in 1996 and was reinvigorated in 2001, with the addition of Tim Wyskida (of Khanate) on the drums. Still it is not until 2015, a stunning twenty-three years that it took for the band to release new music. So, the big question would be if the long wait was worth it? Fuck yeah it was!
Listening time after time to Before Ever After it seems like it is the album that we have been waiting from the experimental band. No matter how great the self-titled album, Cyclotron and Undertow were, in their newest offering Blind Idiot God are fulfilling their promises in the most breathtaking way. Even though a lot of what was going in the three first albums of the band seemed to be quite abstract and improvised, in this case their ability to create free flowing music is in a whole other level. The opening song sees them turning to moments where they reach an absolute zenith of absurdity. Trips to jazzy feelings in songs such as “Under The Weight” and more of a funk and bluesy offering in “Fub” see the band encompassing novel approaches to their existing patterns. And they can go quite crazed at moments as well, do not forget that this band has strong root within math rock and post-hardcore scenes. Take tracks such as “Earthmover” and “Strung” and you will find some of the most bizzare and frenzied rhythmic patterns out there.
Apart from creating strange arrangements within the songs, these guys are masters of improvisation. If that was apparent in the first three albums of the band, it is a focal point in Before Ever After. The guitar solos spread over this album are insane, giving an absolutely great feel in the tracks. There is a sense of urgency to them, but at the same time they do not feel pushed. The guitar solos in “Twenty Four Hour Dawn” and “Earthmover” are brilliantly placed and performed, as are the subtler parts in songs such as “Ramshackle” and “Fub.” showing that no matter in which mode Blind Idiot God are, they are equally capable of producing their conceptual designs to great extents. Even within the dub tracks of the album, such as “High and Mighty” and “Night Driver,” the lead work is impeccable.
The same principle is followed on the drums and bass, with Wyskida and Katz giving their all to create such an energetic offering. It is especially stunning to see how they can move within some parts with more rigid structures, as is the case with “Antiquity” and how they can complement the more straightforward moments of the album, while still giving one hell of a performance. And then there are those moments were it seems like all three members will start improvising at the same time, leading to completely out of this world parts, such as in “Wheels of Progress.”
There are a couple of aspects that have changed within the years for Blind Idiot God, and it is more than welcome in this case. There seem to be moments when the music seems to be taking on a much heavier personification than what was used from the band. “Antiquity” and parts of “Wheels of Progress” have that quality, but then you get a track such as “Strung” and even so with “Earthmover” you see the band taking on a drunken heavy rock mantle. Of course that is just a lure and a couple of minutes in the song you will get the perfect dissonance that the band is so capable of calling whenever it is needed. The ease with which Hawkins can come up with these discordant parts is insane, ranging from whole sections, as is the case with parts of “Strung,” to big and dissonant leads in “Under The Weight” and finally to simple bends, in parts of “Twenty Four Hour Dawn” and “Barrage,” that keep you always on the edge.
It is part of this sort of huge, tidal wave sounding attribute that the guitar has and always had in the works of Blind Idiot God. It is not random that the band decided to kick off the album with that aspect of their sound being the first thing you would experience. And it is a trademark sound that they seem able to be able to use in a myriad of different ways. The way the leads wash over in parts of “Wheels of Progress” gives that imposing character to the sound, as do the heavier riffs in “Barrage.” Hawkins even includes “Voice of the Structure,” a track that sees the band shifting towards an ambient side, with just the guitar exploring different sonic qualities. That is also a slight wink towards Azonic, Hawkins' solo project.
Of course the final aspect that needs to be addressed here is no other than the dub influence. Well it is clearly more than an influence. Even though Blind Idiot God would include dub tracks in their previous albums, their approach of that sound in Before Ever After is on another level. The attitude is more exploratory in these songs as well, and even though they feature great melodies and infectious grooves, you can still feel that ugly Lovecraftian beast lurking underneath. “High and Mighty” is the first track that you encounter in this trip which will immediately get stuck in your head, with its huge bass and pumping sound. “Night Driver” on the other hand has a smoother and slightly darker tone, with an underlying emotional vibe as well, while “Ramshackle” features an almost playful attitude from the band. “Fub” is probably the best combination of all the different aspects of Blind Idiot God, featuring dub moments, as well as jazz parts and heavier passages. And then there is finally “Shutdown” which is closer to the vibe of “High and Mighty” and finishes off the album with its gorgeous melodic parts and intoxicating rhythm. Do not think for a second that this is straightforward dub, and even though the songs have that “lying on a beach” vibe to them, it feels more like you are in a beach on some science fiction based planet, getting burned by its three suns in front of a sea which is actually comprised of molten uranium.
As great as their earlier works were, Before Ever After finds Blind Idiot God playing in a whole different level. The fluidity that they are able to achieve is highlighted perfectly by the stellar production of this album. It is just one of these weird cases, with a band going away for so long and then manages to comeback not just with a reprisal of their previous material, but rather with their best work to date.
9.6 / 10
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