- Musicianship (non-vocal)
- Rating of a hypothetical vocal-free version of the album
“I’m really liking this so far. It has some creepy cabaret vibes a la Stolen Babies with perhaps a little bit of Sleepytime Gorilla Museum thrown in for good measure. I’m especially digging the vibraphone. This is…what the hell? Kill it with fire!” Such was my reaction upon listening to Sh.Tg.N’s self-titled album. Oh, and in case you are wondering, it is pronounced “shotgun,” though really one could substitute the periods with whatever vowels one finds suitable. Shitgun? Oh, the band used that for one of the song titles. I wonder if it’s like this? Shitgin? Sounds like a repulsive mixer. Shetgan? No, that doesn’t even make sense…Sorry, I digress.
Before delving into the “what the hell?” aspect of my reaction, I would first like to address what I was “really liking [about] this.” I’ve already mentioned the slight similarity in feeling to Stolen Babies and Sleepytime Gorilla Museum (which I have never found to be a bad thing), manifested as atmospheric, dark cabaret vibes with some interesting rhythms. Then there’s the vibraphone. The way its clear ringing contrasts with the oftentimes sludgy guitar tone provides the perfect amount of diversity to keep things interesting without sounding too disparate.
Speaking of disparate, there I was enjoying the way the eerie opening guitar chords of the song Eyjafjallajokull (I find my brain shying away from trying to pronounce that one) gave way to a heavier riff with a groovy bass line and awesome vibraphones, when the “what the hell?” moment hit. You know those polarizing vocalists that people tend to either love or hate? Well, I found myself leaning more toward hate. It sounded to me like a really bad Zack de la Rocha impression and pretty much destroyed my enjoyment of the album.
So, while the album has some excellent instrumentation blending interesting rhythms with a diversity of sound, the diversity gets pushed to the breaking point by the vocals, which just sound too out of place to be considered interesting. If you are a fan of both dark atmospheric prog and Rage Against the Machine, and you also happen to think that a combination of the two would be positively epic, then this just might be the album for you.