"The Captain's Daughter"

By Dr. Abner Mality

Subarachnoid Space is dead. The long running experimental psych outfit finally packed it in sometime in 2011. Rising from the ashes we have Eight Bells (also the name of the last Subarachnoid album) and I would venture to say this outfit will have even more appeal to adventurous metal fans than S.S. ever did.

This is real cool and mind-bending guitar workout stuff. Subarachnoid guitarist Melynda Jackson let's it all hang out on "The Captain's Daughter", she pushes her guitar playing into another dimension of screaming acidic overdrive. The four tunes here have more identity than the old S.S. stuff and should appeal way more to metal and hard rock fans without sacrificing the more experimental side of the equation. Jackson is blessed to be joined by a superb bassist in Haley Westeiner and equally killer drummer in ex-S.S. skinsman Chris van Huffel. You could almost pick up "The Captain's Daughter" for the bass and drum work alone. Neither instrument follows Jackson's guitar blindly and they both push the envelope in different ways. Although definitely a metal/rock album, the music reminds me a lot of prime jazz in the way the players all work together.

Just four songs here and things get off to an energetic, hard rocking start with "Tributaries". Short and compact, this feature a super juicy guitar tone and lots of scorching leads. "Fate and Technology" is longer and heavier and yet more melodic as well, featuring some real delicate female vocals as well as harsh shouts. Those are the only vocal gymnastics on exhibit here. This song has a lot of ebb and flow to it and tons of that instinctual interplay which reminds me of the band Stinking Lizaveta. The huge 12 minute plus title track is where the more experimental, psychedelic side of the band arises and where the comparisons to old Subarachnoid Space become most prevalent. This is the kind of track you just sit back and let the guitar blast through your eardrums and deep into the wrinkled folds of your cortex.

The album concludes with "Yellow Wallpaper", which is a perfect example of a song building gradually from a low-key post-metal kind of workout into soaring acid-psych guitarscapes and finally an immense climax. Brilliant track.

Needless to say, something to savor for fans of psych/noise/instrumental brilliance. Subarachnoid Space is dead. Long live Eight Bells!