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A Model of Control

It's amazing to think just how long it's been since the last full Collide release. Some Kind of Strange was released way back in April 2003, and the extensive remix album Vortex a year later in April 2004. That's nearly five and a half years since the last actual new material, and while The Secret Meeting album last year was an appetiser, it wasn't quite the real thing.

So the patient wait for new material continued, until August when pretty much out of the blue a release date in September was confirmed at last for Two Headed Monster. And as Tongue Tied & Twisted fades in, it couldn't be anyone else other than Collide - suggesting that, on first glance anyway, that the band are picking up where they left off all those years ago.

Surprisingly, this isn't quite the case. While this is still unmistakeably the work of kaRIN and Statik, when the savage power chords tear across the opening track like slashes of a knife to herald the chorus, it becomes clear other influences have been allowed in. If nothing else, the whole sound doesn't just centre around Karin's vocals like they used to - there is a lot going on here, and repeated listens are required to pick up the subtle things going on.

This cracking opening track is simply blown away by the racing thrills of Chaotic, a hitherto rare uptempo track that works very well indeed, the fast-paced drumming by Danny Carey from Tool underpinning a track that strikes me as a symbolic shift - teeming with energy and drive, it's a world away from the languid sound you so expect from the band. A Little Too Much's slinky pop thrills - back to the usual pace, really, but all seems to be in technicolour, rather than the usual darker colours.

Pure Bliss takes us back to more familiar Collide territory, a long, spacey track that is exquisite as the title suggests. Spaces In Between surprises by bringing quasi-breakbeats to the mix (that'll be Danny Carey again), and another high octane chorus driven by torrents of multi-tracked guitars...and then we reach the first track where I'm still not sure about it. Silently Creeping sends me back to some older Collide songs, but not in a good way - it's smokey, bluesy feel seems to jar a little as all the parts don't really appear to belong together, not to mention that the track as a whole sounds like a track they've done before that I can't quite place (and it's going to bug me, this).

Head Spin also takes ideas from previous Collide songs, but makes (in my view) a much better fist of it. Considerably less...dense than much of the rest of the album, the sparse beats and electronics push Karin back to the fore and brings attention back to the lyrics - which are as obtuse as ever, but have the suggestion of being about something sexual. Another poppy track, this, that works brilliantly.

The title track is another Collide-by-numbers, really. Dreamy, spaced-out and languid that while is nothing bad, isn't much to write home about, and to a point, Shifting's orchestral shimmer brings out the same opinion in me - after the big leaps forward earlier in the CD, these tracks feel like something of a disappointment. Thankfully, the album doesn't finish in this vein, closer Utopia being a glorious ballad that seems to open up the night sky and send the stars shining though just for you - really, it's that good.

So, yeah, this was worth all the wait. Collide deliver what we perhaps expected, and then some, showing such a confidence with their established sound that they have been able to stretch and shift it into new arenas, and hopefully along the way gain some more fans, too - they've been a "well kept secret" for far too long.-Adam W

Gothic Paradise

There is just no slowing down with this duo as the ideas just seem to flow and almost year after year we're presented with great new material. This latest work has the band putting together some of their best material to date crossing many genre boundaries and remaining as true to their sound as ever. With ten powerful yet smooth tracks on this disc, it is packed with a booklet of lyrics, cool pics of both members as well as tons of other info.

We start out slow and heavy with "Tongue Tied & Twisted" with some excellent grinding guitar and kaRIN's smooth vocals softening the edge and bringing it all in for a smooth. We leave this slow, grooving beat for something a little more intense with an upbeat rhythm. This piece, aptly named "Chaotic" really pours on the intensity through a mix of distorted electronics and guitars through each chorus. These first two piece remain something of the anchor for this album and have quickly become new favorites from this group. However, there's still plenty of great material as we grind on through the other remaining pieces.

After a fun romp through "A Little Too Much" we're brought into a somewhat downtempo piece with dark, brooding piano to start off "Pure Bliss". This slowly builds as guitar and somber percussion join, but by the time we hit the chorus hang on to your seat as the distortion and intensity kicks in once again. Then as suddenly as it began, we're left once again with the somber, smooth sounds and rhythm moving slowly along to vanish once again amidst the chaos one last time before fading off nicely. As the album moves one we drift through more of these up and down intense pieces such as the deftly slow "Silently Creeping" with intense choruses and soft and somber verses in between.

As we near the end of the album "Head Spin" is an awesome piece with some great, heavy and pulsating electronics and a beat that keeps things moving a little more and is almost fun and happy, in a dark and brooding sort of way. As we drift through the title track and "Shifting" we're finally left with "Utopia" which is another favorite and a great way to wrap up the album. This piece is dreamy and intense, once again going through an intense chorus with distorted grinding guitar, but more on the level something along the line of shoegazer and so it still remains quite dreamy and ethereal.

That wraps up another great work from this band and it should really please fans both old and new as they create new music while maintaining their true sound perfectly.

Rating: 4.5/5

Regen Magazine

Placing a greater emphasis on the organic elements of their music, Collide still provide fans with what they know and love.

Collide have certainly come far since their inception, and credit should be granted to this dynamic duo for doing it on their own terms, having released all of their music via their own Noiseplus label. While they have hardly kept quiet since their last album of new material, 2003's Some Kind of Strange, releasing a remix album, a live CD/DVD, a re-release of Distort, and their collaboration with Curve's Dead Garcia in The Secret Meeting, their latest album, Two Headed Monster presents Collide fans with more of what they know and love: scathing electronic and guitar textures, dark atmospheres, and mystifying vocals and melodies. Never ones to stray from balancing beauty and aggression, Two Headed Monster may be perhaps the band's most rock-oriented work.

Beginning with "Tongue Tied & Twisted," we are immediately treated to the Collide formula as layers of Statik's distorted synth scrapes mesh with the drums of Tool's Danny Carey, which slightly resemble The Downward Spiral-era Nine Inch Nails, while kaRIN's voice reverberates as beautifully as ever, her cadence during the chorus recalling elements of Maynard James Keenan (think "Ænima"). "Chaotic" and "A Little Too Much" then chime in, the former track with a raucous beat evocative of mid '90s noise-rock like Medicine, while both songs are chockfull of gritty guitars and ambient melodies that immediately put one in the mind of Curve, although that could also be due to the presence of Dean Garcia on the bass. Collide have often been likened to Curve, but never has the comparison been quite as evident as on these two tracks, and it's hardly a detriment. Try listening to the bopping rhythm and catchy melodies of "Head Spin" and not imagine go-go dancers and psychedelic light shows. "Pure Bliss" brings us back into Collide's more familiar territory as a somber piano and fluid guitar sustain create a dark mood offset by kaRIN's lush vocals before blissfully erupting into an energetic chorus. The same can be said of the title track, which bears the distinction of being the shortest song on the album. One of the more impressively off-kilter tracks on Two Headed Monster comes in the form of "Silently Creeping;" beginning with a somewhat jazzy rhythm, analog synth tones that recall the cinematic soundtracks of the late '70s and early '80s, and tried and true tremolo guitar dives, the song takes an abrupt and discordant turn in the chorus. Though hardly the most linear progression, it is perhaps one of the most musically adventurous tracks the band has yet composed. The album closes out with "Utopia," yet another classic Collide track with their expert mix of lush ambience and grating synth and guitar textures, all carried by kaRIN's emotive voice.

Aided by live members Scott Landes, Rogerio deSilva, Chaz Pease, and Kai Kurosawa, kaRIN and Statik prove with Two Headed Monster that a band can indeed carry their sound into new directions while retaining those elements that defined them in the first place. Still balancing the guitars with the electronics and with no shortage of live drums, the emphasis on the organic qualities of the band's music seem much more prevalent on this album, but there are still plenty of those noisy synthesizers that fans love. Besides that, kaRIN's vocals and melodies are as sharp as ever, enticing and mysterious, and always adding the right amount of soothe to Statik's noisy musical seethe. Two Headed Monster is not a dramatic departure for Collide, but it could do well to not only please longtime fans but also gain them a few new ones along the way.-Ilker Yücel