Standing Ovation – The Antikythera Mechanism
Written by Mark Nagy
So. Standing Ovation’s latest album, The Antikythera Mechanism, has been “on my desk” for what feels like at least a year (it’s probably only been like a month), and that’s a really long for an album to elude my analytic superpowers. I’d chalk to up to the fact that it’s the most difficult album to spell this side of Bal-Sagoth’s discography, but that’s just a lame excuse. What’s really been the frustration has been my intense aversion to making up my mind what to think of this surprisingly eclectic, effective, and frustrating album.
I had heard some youtube material before getting this promo, and it sounded like pretty promising eclectic/technical/melodic progressive metal, and it is. I got my hands on the record, listened to about 6 minutes of it, and halfway through the third song I was greeted with pig squeals. Never has a song been so thoroughly and so quickly ruined in my time listening to heavy metal music.
Luckily the album recovers, and in quite surprising form. “Black Box” is pretty memorable, along with the extremely quirky “Hey Ho”, and “I Have Superhuman Powers”. I never thought I’d say this in a review of a progressive metal band, but these guys actually remind me a lot of System Of A Down. Their singer certainly has a very Serj Tankian-like vocal quality, and the random pig squeals are par for the course on what Daron Malakian used to do when he wanted to ruin an otherwise great song. The eclectic and goofy group of ideas on display certainly fits that ethos as well.
Of course, what would any small time progressive release be without a borderline 20 minute song? In this case, it’s broken up into 3 parts, and as much as I want to tell you whether it sounds like 3 separate songs or just one big thing split up for convenience, it’s just too boring. I’ve given it a fair shake and tried to listen through, but after the zaniness of the middle of the album, this is just completely flat. Midway through part 2 (Past the 10 minute mark), there’s some quality material, and it improves from there, but it’s too little too late at that point. As a listener, I’m already gone, and if I weren’t a critic, I wouldn’t have made it far enough to find that that quality even existed. I’m not entirely sure if “prog metal’s System Of A Down” is a good identity for Standing Ovation, but it sure was better than 20 minutes of just being downright generic.
There’s probably stuff here and there worth recommending. In particular, the middle part of the album had me pretty excited. They’ve got some really strong melodies, and it’s a great recovery from the*ahem*, travesty that is “Travesty”. Still, you can’t put one name to the last 20 minutes and just completely fail to get the listeners attention. That’s really the death knell for something that probably had some potential, and might turn out decent in the future.
1.75 // 5