Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Infected Mushroom - Vicious Delicious (Original TC Review)

YoYo Records: 2007

(2017 Update:
Remember when some Infected Mushroom fans figured this was the absolute worst the duo could reach? Haha, oh you darling dickens, just wait until a weird, parasitic, futuristic noise known as 'brostep' invades their sound. Maybe you'll accept the 'nu-metal' stuff after all then.

When I was writing this a decade ago (!!), I couldn't help but worry whether I had any right claiming authoritative insight on what metal fans would like. For all intents, IM lured in quite a few to the ranks of psy-trance, fascinated by the strange sounds and twisted production tricks unlike anything they'd heard paired with power chords and heavy riffage before. Going back to it though, this album still sounds overwrought and corny, making me embarrassingly cringe in the hopes the music's not leaking too much out of my headphones such that complete strangers give me The Look. But it's not like I haven't enjoyed pseudo-serious metal myself (oh hi, Pantera) - taste will always be subjective, and if
Vicious Delicious somehow does it for you (!!!), you shouldn't feel any shame in that. Only fans of Handsup should be ashamed of any pride in listening to that rubbish. Shame on you, Handsup fans.)


IN BRIEF: An attempt to appeal to the most moronic of metal fans.

To say Infected Mushroom’s previous album IM The Supervisor was received with mixed reviews would be too kind. More specifically, it divided their fanbase into two solid camps: those who fully embraced the duo’s forays into metal riffage and singing, and those who wouldn’t give them another chance unless they knocked it off with the guitars and got back to making psy trance. Perhaps it's silly to have such expectations on them though. After all, they've clearly stated they’d rather try different music than stay in a specific niche. Still, this is the psy scene we’re talking about here - although fun, it is quite insular to the rest of the music world.

And unfortunately for such fans, Erez Aizen and Amit ‘Duvdev’ Duvdevani are showing no signs of which way they want to go either. They moved to Los Angeles to escape their Israeli scene stereotype, yet retain mostly a psy trance following whenever on tour. They’ve been featured on the cover of DJ Mag, but probably only as a means of that rag trying to gain some ‘underground’ cred for covering a psy act. And are they trying to be rock or trying to be psy? Who knows anymore. Even their latest album - Vicious Delicious - finds this split personality in full effect, with half the tracks sounding like either or.

I’m almost at a quandary whether we should be covering this release at all. When the duo embrace metal, it’s a full plunge; very little of their electronic background is retained beyond studio tricks that add to a track’s production. This isn’t like S.U.N. Project or other ‘buttrock goa’ acts that would use guitars as something to complement acid squelches; this is Infected Mushroom doing rap-metal, or prog-metal, or metal-metal. But an electronic act they still are, as the standard psy tracks on Vicious Delicious attest to. And ultimately, Infected Mushroom are more electronic than Neil Young, right?

For as large of a name Infected Mushroom is though, I’m amazed at how average their psy trance offerings are here. The track Suliman, for instance. With chunky rubbery hooks, vocal samples, and squelchy guitar licks, this could have been produced by any number of Israeli acts. Of course, its possible producers in Israel are copying the duo due to their success, but it doesn’t excuse them from sounding like everyone else either. Eat It Raw isn’t much better, going through so many meandering psy motions, you’d be hard pressed to remember it later. Change The Formality suffers from directionless writing too, but is redeemed by better sounds at play and an incredibly infectious vocal hook (and probably one of the best on the whole album, but I’ll get to the vocals in bit). Beyond, in avoiding many of Israeli psy’s more annoying clichés, is a nice trancer in its own right but sounds strangely out of place.

Ah yes. Israeli psy clichés. Let me talk to you about them for a moment. The title track Vicious Delicious is filled with the best and worst of them. First the good: the climax is great, with a build that just keeps piling the tension on and on; whenever full-on nails this it’s possibly some of the most exciting electronic music out there, and Infected Mushroom hits it wonderfully here. It comes in the last third of the track though, and you have to sit through a bunch of nonsense to get there: lots of rambling tangents, and lots of ridiculous sounds. What even is that? A burbling baby mixed with intestinal indigestion? Just idiotic.

Still, when compared to the duo’s metal offerings...

The flamenco-styled Becoming Insane is tolerable thanks to the catchy guitar licks but the rest of their offerings are hilariously awful. You'd think they were a couple of teens who'd just discovered Metallica for the first time. It’s bad enough their limp attempt at prog-metal (Heavy Weight) relies on the simplest of power-chords and acoustic melodies to get the long-hairs thrashing their heads (and I’m not talking about the hippies). It’s bad enough Forgive Me sounds like they were inspired by shit-rockers Nickelback. And it’s bad enough Special Place is a misguided combination of rambling Israeli psy with rock. No, the ultimate abomination is their attempts to sound like Linkin fucking Park!

Artillery is rap-metal at its most hokey. With one-time mainstream Canadian rappers Swollen Members in support, Infected Mushroom apparently never got the notice this style of music was officially declared uncool for a number of years now; ever since the initial fanbase of the genre grew out of their prepubescent stage and matured. While the raps are at least functional, 'Duvdev' sounds like he's shooting for Chester Bennington but ends up sounding closer to Chad Kroeger of the aforementioned shit-rock group Nickelback. Here's the actual chorus:

“Loooooooocccked insiiiiiiiiidde this caaaaaaAAAAAAggee agaaaaAIIIiiinnn!”

But guess what! Infected Mushroom decide they need to cover all aspects of metal on this release, and offer to their listeners In Front Of Me, a power ballad! Good God, no.

Folks may think I’m being harsh on Infected Mushroom because they decided to venture out of their familiar psy trappings, that I dislike their metal offerings because of their use of guitars and such. Not at all. Heavy guitars have often worked wonderfully in EDM, with Liam Howlett's usage the greatest example. Fact of the matter, though, is Infected's metal songs are just amateur at best and crap at worst, with songwriting at a level only young teenage boys would think is innovative. I’ll grant ‘buttrock goa’ was never exactly musically creative either, but at least it had tongue-in-cheek self-awareness of this fact. Infected Mushroom seems to believe these tracks are actually good. And production wise, yes I’ll grant they are. But make no mistake: Vicious Delicious’s metal is for beginners ...or psy trancers who are easily amazed at the inclusion of a guitar, judging by some of their fans’ reactions. I find if I reduce my brain to the thoughts of an angst–filled fourteen year old, the songs are tolerable but I shouldn’t have to rely on drinking a six-pack of cheap beer in the school park before 11pm to enjoy an album.

All in all, Vicious Delicious is an average psy trance release, and a metal release bordering on parody; there is no middle-ground. If Infected Mushroom stay on this path, they should have little trouble in continuing the alienation of their old fanbase, yet also satisfying them just the same. Trying to have your cake and eating it too has never been so apparent.

Written by Sykonee for TranceCritic.com, 2007. © All rights reserved


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