Technical music. Is it just showing off? Very often it is, but I do find myself drawn to it if the tracks work as tracks, rather than absurd wank-a-thons designed to stroke the ego of musicians who don’t know how to play for a song, but could definitely melt your God. Damn. Face. Off from 100 yards.
So that is why I dig bands such as Between The Buried and Me and Tool, and why I tend to prefer technical death metal over the classic grindier type. Another band I class as technical with a great mind for writing songs (however mental they may be) is RoloTomassi. Their first two albums are some of my favourite albums. Then two members left; two reasons I didn’t find their third offering quite as invigorating as the previous releases. Joseph Nicholson, the guitarist, wrote one of my go to riffs to (try to) play when I pick up the guitar, the first riff from the I Love Turbulance track. It is the perfect mix of technical without losing its sense of melody. So what am I blabbering on about…?
Well a couple of years on Joseph and the bassist (Joseph Thorpe) formed Body Hound with another couple of guys (Ex-Antares, RedmistDestruction), and damn if they ain’t great!
Sure, the first time you listen your mind is mangled by poly rhythmic madness, time signatures chop and change, and tempos switch at a moments notice. You need a sit down to recover, but then you need to listen again.
What really stands out is that in the first half of the album especially, despite the changing tempos and time signatures, there is still groove; the tracks don’t really feel disjointed despite their technicality. This becomes even more impressive when you realize that the tracks rarely revisit an idea. They take a riff, develop it, and then move on. Album opener Vector Approaching displays my point perfectly. It has hit its third section by the time it has hit one minute in, but you cannot fail to be pulled along by their mastery of time signature mangling riffage.
Sometimes the guitars harmonize, only to go off in different directions, finally meeting up once more. Systems is guitar harmony heaven for a lot of it, but the sections where each guitar goes its own way is superb. The rhythm section gets some spotlight action as well, but throughout the album the bass and drums hold everything together without being overplayed. The bass especially is quite happy to keep up with the guitars at any point, but is totally cool with dropping back and just grooving.
The intro to Void is very RoloTomassi, but that is the only time I have been reminded of them in the whole album. It is also the first track that really lets up from a barrage of riffing, at least for the first minute or so. Then it is full on again, the polyrhythmic ideas are mind-blowing. It could be two tracks playing separately sometimes, but still they work surprisingly well together.
The second half of the album is maybe a little more discordant than previous tracks. Their Stravinsky inspiration coming through, I guess. Momentum flies off the handles straight away and feels atonal (my music theory is not great, but it lacks any strong resolution that I can hear). This gives the track a great sense of movement without any abrupt changes in the riffs. It just flows perfectly from beginning to end. Perseus Arm starts in a similar vein with discordant and chaotic harmonized guitar lines. It gains much more time signature groove later on and the bass thunders in and grinds away wonderfully to push the track along.
Then we finish with the title track. We already know what to expect, but we are not disappointed. It is heavily syncopated in parts it is still less chaotic than what has come before it, but delightfully heavy and a suitable place for the album to finish.
Rhombus Now is perfectly organized chaos. If you like math-rock you have no excuse not to fall in love with this. I did have to give it a few listens through before it really started to shine, but once it started shining I could not give it up. Body Hound could be the biggest instrumental math-rock band of recent years. Here’s hoping, because this is a stupendous debut.