Just the Tip (Independent)
Seldom have the stoopid and sophisticated shared a space so comfortably as on Expain’s debut. The band’s daft name and cheesy ’80s-style logo—it looks like something you might see in a high-school notebook, drawn in pen between AC/DC and Iron Maiden—don’t exactly get your hopes up.
Neither does the booklet art, which includes a photo of a guy with a large turd laid across his face. Lyrics like “strangled frozen memories rectify decapitated” (from “Aggressions Progression”) don’t help, either, seeming positively ESL in their incomprehensibility. Nor do song titles like “Headbang Your Head Off” or “Eating a Beating Heart”.
Surprising, then, that in between the melodic thrash riffage, Ryan Idris’s double kick-drum runs, and the screamed vocals of Daniel Brand (who sounds kinda like Lamb of God’s Randy Blythe with razor blades wedged in his throat) there’s actually some pretty sophisticated musicianship at work. This comes to the foreground in the intros, breakdowns, bridges, and solos, where bassist Nikko Whitworth and guitarists Eric Morrison and Pat Peeve regularly delve into proggy, jazzy, and fascinatingly complex interplays that raise the IQ of matters considerably.
Just the Tip isn’t going to attract those whose primary orientations are either prog rock or jazz (or, really, anything other than metal), but it’s engaging and would probably be arresting to see played live. Overall, a promising debut.