Incoming Cerebral Overdrive
Controverso

The newest addition to Italy’s Supernatural Cat/Malleus Art collective musical and graphic arts family are these five homeboys from Pistoia who join psychedelic sludgies Ufomammut and proggy instrumentalists Lento to represent some of the best of modern Italian innovative heaviness. The group has elicited some blips on the international underground radar, with Converge‘s Kurt Ballou twiddling the knobs on their debut record, Cerebral heART and that’s as good a place to start as any in terms of comparisons. Owing a heavy debt to mid-to-late 90’s skronked out, math-y metalcore and techy grind, one can hear the influence of Botch and Dillinger Escape Plan quite clearly as well as contemporaries such as Antigama, Behold…the Arctopus and Psyopus. The group shares these band’s willingness to throw it all against a wall and have it bounce back in such a way as to produce reverberation as catchy and coherent as chaotic and crazy.

Where they diverge from both their forefathers and current brothers is present in spare moments of Controverso, nowhere more so than the tendency to slow down to off-kilter sludge on the appropriately back to back tracks, “Science” and “Magic” for example, the latter which wonderfully shifts into some electronics-infused Bond-themed bass and drum, before coming back to the chaos, moves that remind me of their fellow-countrymen in Ephel Duath at their most aggressively demented. Like their primary influences mentioned above, and unlike many of those band’s disciples, ICO never forget that the roots of their experimentation are planted in hardcore and it’s when these roots show that make for some of the albums more enjoyable moments. Like the moments of clarity in the midst of an anime induced epileptic fit, the group will suddenly jump-cut from moments of zany staccato picking and scatter shot blasting to flourishes of relatively direct fist-pumping, circle-pitting modern hardcore.

Individually, Samuele Storai’s has an impressive vocal range that ambitiously aspires to Patton and even comes scarily close at times (“There”), Filippo Baldi has mastered this style’s basic percussion approach, methodically ascending the roller-coaster tracks before throwing himself down a flight of stairs with an armload of pots and pans. Tucci and Tocci are more than proficient in all matters of zany riffology and nerdy noodling, with the latter having a great sense for when to lay on the synths and when to lay off. Bassist Alessio Corsini shines in the aforementioned slower moments, creating a tense rhythmic pulse from which his band mates anxiously prepare for the next blast-off. The production is clean enough to for the listener to discern all the myriad aspects of the band’s sound, while also being raw enough to deliver the whole with a sense of urgency and ferocity. Controverso is definitely a grower; while initial listens lend themselves to picking apart their influences, subsequent spins impress upon the audience the strange and exciting new places they take them. As the 2009 academic years begins, Incoming Cerebral Overdrive have clearly gone from geeky freshman to solid sophomore, even advanced placement, and quite likely on their way to the head of the class.

Take notice.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by John Gnesin
September 29th, 2009

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