Another great review has come in for Two Headed Monster from Morpheus Music, thanks to Paul.
Industrial gothic guitar and electronic music with ethereal female vocals. Collide have a massive sound - pounding drums drive rich tracks of gritty guitar and sinuous bass full of energy that are in powerful contrast with singer kaRIN's voice. The singing is delivered with a languid cool, refusing to be hurried by the beat of the music kaRIN wields her seductive voice as if calmly controlling a tempest. The guitars are for the most part heavily effected - corrosive distortion creating a dense grainy feel for much of the time, broadened by various other flange or chorus type pedals and who knows what else - there's a lot in this sound. Statik also introduces various synthetic effects and textures that keep the mix percolating - peripheral details and bubbling ephemera that break up the surface like grunge layers on a photograph, and an almost orchestral sound on Shifting. The passages where the band wind the intensity down do a lot to add to the interest value of the album - sultry softer moments, downward spiralling interludes and even a few whole tracks of downtempo trip hop shadow. The album generally lowers the pace as the second head of the Collide monster rises to dominance - a more dreamy atmosphere, less noise and fuzz. That said there is an enjoyable variation of approach from start to finish, each track taking an unpredictable trajectory from the last.
Two Headed Monster comes in a jewel case with a glossy sixteen page booklet. Imagery is primarily centred on shots of the band. Singer kaRIN appears on the front in reflective symmetry a conjoined two headed monster, hair lifted by unseen currents, shot in a limited palette of near sepia tones. Indeed this dark bronzy brown hue runs throughout the package - on the back another portrait mirror image with track titles rolling down the centre. Within textures of jagged stitching, cracked earth and twisted branches form backdrops for a wealth of information: lyrics are here, extensive credits, a whole page of thanks and plenty of studio photographs of the band.
This is now the fifth or sixth album from Collide depending on how you count things (the double disc Vortex being largely a remix collection). This current release, once more on the Noiseplus label, sees the band more solid, confident and polished than ever; true to their darkwave heritage still, yet with some more dance floor elements and at times even leaning a little in the direction of edgy pop. There are elements in the music that further explore some directions taken on the Secret Meeting project where the Collide duo teamed up with ex-Curve main man Dean Garcia. The ten track Two Headed Monster comes five years after the last full studio album and it's worth the wait - all of the controlled chaos, the thick catchy riffs, the inventive programming and crepuscular mystique - it's all here only even more well-produced than before. Have a listen on the band's website.