Power of Metal.dk Review

Into the Maelstrom
Style: Progressive Rock
Release date: 3 March, 2014
Playing time: 60:12

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.

I'm going 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.

Their 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.

I do, 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.

The album 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 something.

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.

01. Incredible Time Machine
02. Hypersleep
03. Already Gone
04. Alien Frequency
05. The Professor & The Madman
06. Mr. Harry McQuhae
07. Vertigod
08. Control Freak
09. High
10. Edge of Oblivion
11. Theater of Dreams
12. ITM
Label: Inside Out Records
Distribution: EMI (Denmark)
Artwork rating: 60/100
Reviewed by: Jason Spencer
Date: 4 March, 2014
Website: www.bigelf.com