Without Waves - Comedian Album Review

There are certain things you probably can't just pick up from only kind of knowing someone. For instance if you've read any of my previous reviews or listened to my show, you may not realize – and please, sit down before you read this next sentence – I am a bit of a weirdo.

Out of courtesy, I will allow you to recover from this shocking revelation.

Are you back? Great, let's keep going.

Being a weirdo, my musical taste reflects my weirdo-ism usually culminating in bands that are full of straight up crazy people who do crazy things in their music. As a recent example, I was a full on convert to the Melted Bodies school of musical weirdness and spastic nature. The problem is that artists like this don't make records every month for me to chew on, spit out, pick back up and rub all over my ears, as is customary. And this past month, on March 18, I was given a true weirdo gift, lovingly sent from Chicago to me from Without Waves, in the form of their record, Comedian.

The band has been going since 2010, and have managed to put out 2 albums and an EP before this release, none of which I have any concept of, so going in I didn't know what to expect, but being on Prosthetic Records, I knew there would be some quality control on it. Little did I know the all over the place ride that this record would take me on.

It starts off pretty straightforward, almost System Of A Down-like in its manic aggressive energy through the first two tracks "Good Grief" and "Animal Kingdom." I say System Of A Down, but really, this also feels like a band that could share the stage with the aforementioned Melted Bodies or Dillinger Escape Plan and since this was two back to back tracks kicking off the record, I expected the record to continue in this vein.

But it quickly shows that isn't the only point of reference the band is pulling from. In fact, even though the record starts here, where it ends up is decisively more in the realm of prog bands. Around "Set & Setting" the album starts to delve more into this prog-esque territory, as if it's doing a musical copy of Tool, more slowed down, prodding elements until the album takes an unexpected more Devin Towsend turn which fully unveils itself during "Do What Scares You." It starts off with what sounds like a distonal piano and other random instrumentation that you'd expect on a heavier Devin side project before it gets to Strapping Young Lad. Think of one of Devin's Ziltoid records as a reference point.

This sort of continues into the next track, "Sleight in Shadows" but I guess more accurately it sounds like if Periphery got really into adult-oriented rock, which I suppose is something that could happen here in the weirdest and darkest timeline. This sort of continues on "Day 15," even having a strange robot part at the end that could easily sound like something Animals As Leaders or Styx would throw onto a track and no one would bat an eye.

By the time "Worlds Apart" shows up, with its slowed vaguely slide guitar country ambiance, I thought I had slowly slid into a parallel universe from where I started. As the last track approached, I thought, "Well, this must be leading to a blow out track where all of these elements are going to combine and bring this album together."

Alas, even though the last track, "Seven" is seven minutes long, it's more of the same proggy-ness that precedes it, disappointing me greatly. Sure, it has a start that's more like a desert psych trip before it cuts into what the rest of the album was doing, but here was a perfect chance to revisit the chaos of the first couple tracks and find a way to meld the more prodding, moodiness of the rest of the record but it was not to be.

Really, this record sounds like another victim of the pandemic but in a really weird way. It's as if most of a record was written and then put down only for the band to come back with the intent to do something different, but not waste what they already had, so they kind of just slammed the two together. If you're asking me how this could have been fixed, which clearly you are, the easiest fix would be to write a bit more of the second half and make that a full record and maybe do an EP after writing one more of the odd ball tracks, or just make a track that makes the transition a little less apparent. That's two options for the price of one. What a value.

So, if you like the weirdo stuff, there's way worse options you could pursue. Prosthetic continues its streak of getting bands that have something interesting to contribute to metal, and Without Waves proves that even though they apparently feel super comfortable in the more melodic sphere, they have the ability to stretch the boundaries of what that can encompass, and hopefully, that will make its way on to the next album in a more flushed out way. Or, maybe just a schizophrenic collection of songs that sound like they're all written by different bands, whichever is more convenient.