Wot Gorilla? - Kebnekaise (Self-Released)
By: Ken McGrath
[6/10] There are some bands where the vocals are always going to be an issue for people. Coheed & Cambria. The Fall of Troy. Even the likes of Converge, Obituary and Rush. You can add English melodic math-rockers Wot Gorilla? to that list too. To be fair to them Mat Haigh (vocals/guitar) and Jonny Hey (bass/vocals) do have distinctive voices that work well together but, like say Coheed’s own Claudio Sanchez, it’s going to be an issue for potential fans. It’s got that similar tone, that slightly nasal pitch where it’s not really a great singing voice, but he’s using it to the best he can. It’s a brave move for Wot Gorilla? because they clearly want something that’s going to make them stand out from all the other instrumental bands out there. If you don’t find the vocals annoying then you’ll find plenty to like in here.
Opener “I Beat Up the Bathroom. I’m Sorry” is all soft math-rock, hopping gently from foot to foot, lulling you into what’s coming, before “Melted Welly” kicks almost straight in with those vocals and at that point you’ll know whether you’re sticking around for the rest of the part or not. During “Melted Welly” the guitars shimmer and shine like sunlight through half-closed eyes, the drums providing a soft, skipping beat. “Is” has loads of ideas with plenty of nice, skittering guitars and good bass/drum interplay, giving lift off at the mid-point.
There’re plenty of stop-start rhythmic riffs, but they do go in for the up and down guitar runs too that you’ll be familiar with from Adebisi Shank and Tera Melos. Towards the end of closing track “Snow White” there’s a great little staccato, freak-out where Wot Gorilla? finally let go and really let loose. Here, you’ll find touches of Irish science-rockers Bats in the calling, jabbing guitars, howls and driving drums. “Suspects” settles down nicely in parts with some fine passages, but in general comes across disjointed and needlessly awkward.
Wot Gorilla? seem to, rather than belting you over the head with it, gently pull threads to see where they end up, but unfortunately they’ve opted to put a weak point at the fore and that’s going to hurt them. On subsequent listens you can sometimes hear beyond the vocals, like during “Is” where the voices work most of the time. With that in there are hints of the softer sides of Glassjaw and Far in there occasionally and musically you’ll find danceable elements similar to You Slut!. Which is nice.
Melodic math rock that takes the staples, the bizarre time signatures and the weird structures and executes them very well in the majority of cases. However you’re going to either love Wot Gorilla? or else wish they’d stopped monkeying around when it came to the vocals. Oh and if you’ve made it this far and are still wondering about their name it’s the title of a track from the 1976 album Wind & Wuthering by Genesis. So there you go.
Wot Gorilla? on Bandcamp