Life coaches and creepy self-help gurus always seem to tell you to get a clear plan and follow it. As if all life’s complexities and intrinsic chaos could be bypassed by the mere existence of bullet points and feel good mission statements. Like many of my fellow metal fanciers, I prefer a life of chaos, uncertainty and random disaster. I feel safe saying Texas oddballs From Beyond are right there with me on that too. Their debut jettisons policy and protocol, frantically hurling ideas against a studio wall to see what sticks and how deeply. As The Band From Beyond unspools you’ll hear stoner doom, hard rock, traditional and alternative metal and Nine Inch Nails style emo-goth-industrial strangeness all battling for space and attention. The nearest approximation of a genre is progressive stoner doom, but that just doesn’t tell the whole story. These chaps aren’t so easy to put in a box, concrete or otherwise.
After an eerie synth intro that sounds like it was torn from the Phantasm soundtrack, “The Fall to Earth” trots out a keyboard drenched take on occult doom not far removed from Ghost‘s early material. The vocals impart an Alice in Chains vibe and the combination of fat riffs, cheesy keys and gothy grunge vocals works better than you might expect. Just as you feel you’re getting a handle on the band’s style, they change it entirely for “Blooming Sun,” which is like an Uncle Acid song that ran away from home and started dating White Zombie and Danzig. If you can’t hear that play out in your head, trust me when I tell you it’s pretty glorious, with groovy riffs, rowdy solos and a lot of attitude. It’s a rock n’ roll dynamo and it got me paying attention. And pay attention you must as the band leaps from stoner rock with an 80s pop vibe (“The Slip”) to the full on Trent Reznor robbery of “Lost Way.”1 Cohesion is for wussies, don’t you know.
The back-half settles down into more of a traditional stoner riff-fest, but the surprises aren’t over. Both “The Color Out of Space” and “At Midnight” ply the listener with beefy, meaty grooves and tasteful riffage sure to go over well with the Kyuss set, and there’s something charming and engaging in the stripped down simplicity with which they hammer on you with crushing leads. “At Midnight” bears more than a little Ghost influence in the playful riffing and overall mood, and you’ll almost be waiting for Papa XI-XII to chime in with some ghoulish quip. The biggest, meanest riffs appear on penultimate song “Black Mirror” which strikes me as a foretelling of where Pallbearer may drift style-wise. It’s doom but with a bit of a hard rock sheen and an ear for radio play. It’s a pretty cool sound and one the band should definitely develop going forward.
As disjointed as The Band From Beyond feels at times, it somehow holds together for an easy, entertaining spin. While some songs hit harder than others, no cut is bad, and though I could do without the myriad short interludes littering the album, that’s just nitpicking. The different styles and moods manage to complement one another and by the third spin I was a true believer in what the band is doing.
A classic guitar-driven album if ever there was one, things depend greatly on the axe-work of Rob and Dave. I don’t know Rob or Dave, but I can tell you they were up to the challenge and this is full of captivating riffs and harmonies, as well as some wonky, spaced out solo-work. The vocals are handled by several band members, and whomever does the majority of the cleans is solid enough to elevate the music, even though you wouldn’t say the man has an exceptional voice.
Disjointed and strange may well be a valid lifestyle choice based on the appeal of this here platter. From Beyond show a lot of promise and I’m definitely going to be watching them as they develop. If this is what they deliver when in chaos mode, I can’t wait to see what they can pull off with some polish and experience. Get your strange on and give this thing a serious spin. From beyond ain’t a bad place.