It’s been a while since we last heard from Australian Sam Bean, in fact it was his appearance with London outfit The Antichrist Imperium that particularly caught our attention. As well as them and time in industrial grind bastards The Berzerker he is best known for his near enough solo project The Senseless. They have been rather quiet since last album ‘The Floating World’ but have now gone and unleashed their third on an unsuspecting world, well it certainly was a surprise for me when it landed on the doorstep as I had all but forgotten about them. Last time around Sam did have some help in the drumming department courtesy of Leon Macey whose band Mithras he had also helped out on in the past. With Mithras having had their own line-up shuffles whilst striving to get recent album ‘On Strange Loops’ out along with some live dates it’s no real surprise to see Sam going it alone this time around.
What you get from The Senseless are essentially a massive wall of technical guitar shredding along with some deathly vocals. ‘This Town Will Kill Us’ takes us into a smog filled urban environment via samples before the melodic and twisting assault eases in. Musically unlike the subject matter and growls getting the song title across we are in what can only be described as an upbeat place. It all feels joyous and positive as things spiral away and it also comes across as though the artist is really enjoying having unleashed things and being back in the helm. Although far from djenty or anything like that things co-exist here stylistically with all the sort of bands such as Periphery and their ilk. For me though the nearest comparison has always been Devin Townsend and Sam has that untapped creative eccentricity about the way he plays in line with that particular unhinged virtuoso. Things may not be quite as manic as the near Strapping Young Lad volatility of the last album and tracks like ‘Safe Passage’ are left to flow in an abandoned sprawl hitting peaks and climbing gracefully rather than at an all-out metabolic speed. At times and as the album continues it feels like Sam has been riding the great waves down under as his guitar work is allowed to forge up and onwards climbing higher and higher before plummeting down the other side into near oblivion and wipe-out. This is probably an image indelibly formed in the mind left-over from the cover art of 1st album ‘In The Realm Of The Senses’ for those who remember it way back in 2007 via Anticulture Records. The sudden stop on the previously mentioned track does sound totally wrong though and the abrupt down tools made me wonder if he had landed straight in the jaws of a Great White.
Luckily he recovers to forge ahead and the low growls vocally joust with the tsunami of riff work, always with melody at their foremost. You have little choice here but to grip hold of the nearest groove and hang on for dear life and see where it is going to take you, hoping for some sort of desert island drop off and salvation. Rhythms and musical motifs are in constant flux, sometimes giving you the impression that you have heard them before and at others just allowing you to revel in the sudden and manic energy and frenzied zeal at their heart. The downside here as far as I am concerned is that I didn’t find quite so much diversity as previously with everything blending into a continuous blur (for instance the last album had a distinct stand out segment of street punk blended into it) and to be true I could have done with something along those lines here. Also with a good 15 minutes more material than on previous albums the length of this did leave me feeling a little bit dizzy and I could have handled a more compact album a lot easier.
That’s all just personal though and the album has a huge amount of precision and expert playing in it to keep both the shred-heads and the death metal fans looking for something a bit different right on the edge of their seats.
(7/10 Pete Woods)