Well, I'm at a
loss on what to say about this new release from Bigelf. "Into the Maelstrom" is
an interesting album with highs and lows, and plenty in between, too. Bigelf has
something of a cult following, and it's been a long 5 years since their last
album. So, I think the
expectations and anticipation are pretty high, especially with Mike Portnoy
stepping in to take over on drums.
to be honest. Maybe I just don't like Bigelf's style, or maybe it's just this
album, but my first experience with them has been one of annoyance. "Into the
Maelstrom" is annoying. It's boisterous. It's impossibly over the top,
brick-walled, and devoted to fun. That may appeal to many out there, but it is a
big turn off for me. I find the songs to be repetitive affairs that generally
focus on sounding retro. I have no idea why this is labeled progressive at all,
as they must barely ride the edge.
style is certainly influenced by Black Sabbath. Everything from the low, groovy
guitars to the annoying vocals are taken straight from these metal masters.
Bigelf adds just enough strangeness and eeriness to make a sound that is all
their own, but the classic rock/metal underpinnings are definitely the
foundation for everything else. Because of this, the instrumentals (very few)
are rather predictable and sound like something I've heard a million times. This
is especially true for the guitars and bass.
however, really enjoy the keys. I found the mix of organs and atmospheric synth
to be delightful and a huge elevation for the rest of the music. Portnoy does a
decent job on this record, though his drumming is more or less by the numbers.
There are few fills and such that I found really good, though. All in all, I
found nothing special at all about the instrumentals or any of the performances.
is made up of a bunch of catchy songs. I was really surprised at this.
Consequently, I find most of them disappointing, unsatisfying, and downright
abrasive. "Control Freak" and "Edge of Oblivion" come to mind here, as they are
big, pounding, shallow affairs. There are some good songs on here, but almost no
great or excellent songs. I really like the track "Alien Frequency" with its
interesting keys and its more complex structure. The rest of the songs? They're
okay. Most of the tracks on "Into the Maelstrom" sound much the same, as I even
kept checking because I thought that I might have hit the "repeat" button or
Is this a
terrible album? No. Not really. It's just so darn irritating and boring. It
sounds like an Ozzy Osbourne record sometimes. If that sounds good to you, then
you'll enjoy this. If not, then stay far away from it.