Gigan - The Order of the False Eye (Napalm Records)
By: Ray VanRiette
It takes considerable stones to market oneself as a psychedelic metal band with growled vocals and searing blasts of pummeling grind. Even amongst the artsy jazz metal nerd elite “psychedelic” is a term seldom thrown around. One might then be forgiven for getting a little carried away with expectations for the Tampa, Florida upstarts, Gigan. The Order of the False Eye reeks of mysticism and ritual secrecy even before you unwrap the plastic, with hooded alien faces peering up at you from the jacket as if awaiting some kabalistic ceremony. Song titles like “Still Image Symphony,” “Imprisoned within Duality” and “Undead Auditory Emanations” whet the appetite and stoke the imagination, all promising to explore mysteries previously unknown to man.
What all these omens mean in reality is actually not far off from that promise. Unfortunately though, like most magic explained, the concrete reality rarely lives up to the hype of expectation. Gigan’s overall sound remains consistently aggressive, featuring guitar-driven extreme metal that takes more than a page from the book of fellow oddly experimental, techy art-metal deathheads Anata.
Drumming is a tad schizophrenic, frustratingly alternating between album highlight variety and rockin’ groove to achingly standard extreme metal fare- injecting his surprisingly fun, catchy, headbanging beats with frequent bits of disjointed blasting. Guitars fluctuate similarly between quirky experimental noises reminiscent of a Tom Morello to generic aBaBaBaCaCaa metal riffs. Bass lines please on the occasions they are audible, but spend most of the time buried in the mix.
The Order of the False Eye is reaching for something pretty unique here, and even though they don’t always pull it off, it’s evident that when they do connect they really knock it out. Not many metals bands flirt with trance-y passages at these tempos, but Gigan goes right for the kill, reaching in and numbing your mind with pulsing bass sirens as helicopter blade double-kicks drone until your consciousness submits to thoughtless fuzz, then starts dancing unheeded along shifting patterns of repeating tremolo and jarring aharmonic jangles. Word.
The other 60% of the time though, it’s very business as usual, kind’ve like an Old Man’s Child without the memorable songs. After The Order of the False Eye drops July 22 the band promises to make touring their priority, and it’ll be interesting to see if they can pull off the head trip live.