Blood Stain Child - _Epsilon_
(Pony Canyon, 2011)
by: Dan Lake (9 out of 10)
I'm pretty sure that -cognitive dissonance- is formally defined as "an uncomfortable mental state experienced when encountering a thing that should suck harder than a crack whore with a Shop Vac, but doesn't." I mean, I'm not gonna actually look it up, and the above definition hammers the point home in a single stroke. Nothing else describes so precisely the reaction you should have to Blood Stain Child's _Epsilon_.

On paper, there are so many strikes against _Epsilon_ that, if the album's fact sheet were a baseball game, several innings would flash by before ball and bat ever connected. Melodic. Female-fronted. Electro-pop. Metalcore. From Japan. Doll-faced, pink-haired robo-babe on the cover. Obvious male screamo backing vokills. Nothing on that list rests comfortably next to regular pastimes like pig destroying, goatwhoring, or cattle decapitating. Except, you know, it kinda does.

I won't deny it: I've been intrigued by the cross pollination of rave beats and overdriven chords since Bush dropped "The Chemicals Between Us" back in my college days. A one-track experiment, though, is miles away from a career-length genre statement. ...And Oceans' _AMGOD_ is catchy but, frankly, silly. _Epsilon_ is less silly, mostly because the major ingredients of its trance death stew are both more accomplished and more convincing. "Sirius IV" kicks off the proceedings with the perfect mix of crushing and cutesy to draw in the skeptical listener. But then it turns out that "cutesy" is altogether the wrong word, as the piano / girl-vox / synth agenda is just as dark as the thug-chugging rhythm guitars. And rather than hang the record's success on that hyperactive hybrid, BSC electrify each song with its own distinctly recognizable and insanely singable melody. "Forever Free", "Stargazer", "S.O.P.H.I.A", "Electricity", "Eternal", "Moon Light Wave"... The sweet spots just keep coming, and the futility of waiting for the set to slow or sour only deepens as _Epsilon_ burrows brilliantly into your brain. I once told a student that Jónsi's _Go_ was what a rainbow would sound like on record; if such a sound had a vengeful, hard-rocking counterpart, it would be _Epsilon_.

What's striking is that, while pure gimmicks should turn grating as a band stretches them grotesquely thin over a full-length album, _Epsilon_ continues to sound good through every one of its unlucky thirteen tracks. Late cuts don't suffer from listener fatigue because the electronic tricks are seamlessly integrated, and their goals shift to fit the tone of the song. Imagine that: non-metal elements serving songs rather than themselves! More of this fringe behavior and people might start listening to Music instead of Genres. Never mind. Let's not get carried away.


(article published 6/5/2012)

3/25/2007 J Smit 6 Blood Stain Child - Idolator
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