Light Pupil Dilate - Snake Wine
Light Pupil Dilate cite such influences as Yes, Fugazi, Converge, and Slayer (of course). This pretty much accounts for every element of metal music possible. So defining them by their influences would seem pointless. However, where many metal bands will spout off each of the members’ favorite bands as influences when they sound nothing like the combined disconnected amalgam, Light Pupil Dilate actually sound as eclectic as their combined influences. You can hear elements of Yes amidst the sometimes chaotic blast beats of Converge. The flat vocals of Slayer’s Tom Araya are even sometimes present, heading the technically impressive musicianship.
Of course, citing all of these bands in description of another is doing Light Pupil Dilate a great injustice. The three piece band out of Atlanta produces a sound much greater than one would expect from such a minimal outfit. There is definite talent, at all levels, within this band. Michael Green’s drums are complex. Eric Searle’s vocals, while sometimes flat and unfeeling, center the songs very adequately while Mike Chvasta’s bass lines thunder in the distance. But for all their ability, Snake Wine sounds more like a showing of all the band is capable of rather than a cohesive and focused album. The prog -rock influence and the band’s integration of that element into the album ties the songs together fairly well. But, as with most bands still surfacing from murky depths of their mediocre peers, the lack of direction is all too evident.
Which is exactly what makes Snake Wine an exciting album.
Light Pupil Dilate still drip with the embryonic fluid of their birth into the world of true recording artists (Snake Wine is the band’s second LP. Cascades was self-recorded in 2003). So many times we are given witness to this moment of time in a band’s chronology, only to see it tainted with poor production or inconsistent songwriting quality. Baroness’ first EPs were great but sounded like they were recorded with microphones covered in dripping maple syrup. And nothing pains me more to this day than the amazingly inconsistent production of Eyehategod’s Take As Needed For Pain. The songs on that album are fucking fantastic, yet each song varies in gain, bass level, vocal level, and just about every other aspect, like the album never saw the mastering process (some would say this is all part of Eyehategod’s essence. This is wrong, as Confederacy of Ruined Lives is far better produced and still maintains the street grease flavor associated with Eyehategod. Take As Needed.. is just a piss poor recording job).
This is definitely not the case with Snake Wine. The production of the album is crisp and vibrant and the songs are very good. It is the aural equivalent to seeing a band right before they are consumed by a major label and are forced to choose but one path. There is a wild, unrestrained nature about this album that is rarely heard with such quality. Light Pupil Dilate expertly chase all of their musical desires on Snake Wine, giving the album a fascinating aimlessness coupled with the technical proficiency of a band about to lose its anonymity.
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