Review: “Box of Frogs (Poison)” by Abstractian

A box is full of poisonous frogs from a laboratory in a bleak future where the Earth is but an apocalyptic wasteland depicted in glorious technicolor in the cover art is the first thing that you might see from Abstractian (pronounced Ab-stract-ee-an), a science fiction moment that plays on the bands love of the genre while also being a metaphor for what is contained within their Pandora’s box. Recorded as a quartet comprising Ria (Vocals), Joe (Guitars and Bass), Rupert (Drums), Andy (Keys), the band who are purveyors of Metal that strays between sub-genres hard to pin down and promise to add a bass player before gigging the album later this year and into next year…

There is speculation that the phrase “Madder than a box of Frogs” originates from a group of intrepid German explorers who collecting data on poisonous frogs, the story going that one accidentally became intoxicated by venom, prompting hallucinations and much leaping about, like a frog. Now while we know that such frogs don’t exist but their is species of toad native to the Sonoran Desert, Bufo Alvarius, which produces an extremely potent natural psychedelic; the phrase has stuck and it’s one that actually refers to this album perfectly. Abstractian are both eclectic and eccentric throughout the record, but they manage to knit it all together with threads of continuity that actually reminds of early System Of A Down. They’re not afraid to be creative and listen to their inner straight jacket wearing child, something that takes courage and as a result, the album is also riddled with little nuanced moments that are really good fun. Charmingly enough, opening cut “Driver” has an introduction soundscape to match the cover art, starting with some ambient notes behind the ribbit of frogs that builds into chaos over screams before the guitars come down and kick up some dust. Sonically the track does what the band does across the length and breadth of the album and crosses the territories of several Metal sub-genres, changing lanes on the highway to hell with consummate ease. From a Traditional Metal base, the keys provide a 1970’s Prog-Rock moment mid track that is a really interesting leftfield moment, while also having some moments that sounds like they were cut from demos from a band like Sumo Cyco… and that’s just the opening cut.

Ria’s vocal range in an interesting one as she mixes up some banshee esq unclean moments with a strong clean vocal and also pauses for a spoken word; she’s a storyteller of note and although there are a couple of odd moments that don’t necessarily work as well as they could, like the spoken word almost rap parts of “Reality Analysis“, they’re still interesting enough to carry it off and bring you back for more. That is thanks to the almost schizophrenic nature with which they come across, multiple voices across each track giving everything extra depth and weight. Elsewhere “My Otherside” plays on moods with an almost Sludge Metal mid section that rises from the slightly unhinged melodies with an anarchy, a punk energy that Abstractian have within them and for the finale of this one they unleash the beast with some industrial programming making way for some brutal uncleans and twisted base that is pure Evil. Even the less experimental “Skin Of Chains” manages to find room for something left field, shoehorning in and almost Ska Punk guitar section, while “Wrath Of The Rain” has a wonderful Blues Rock moment that bursts into a frenetic solo, by which point Ria sounds like she’s screaming from an Asylum window. The storytelling continues into “Rumour” which is a tale of Alien Invasion which very much the soundscape to a Science Fiction B-Movie, the solo an an absolute flyer before “Love Won’t Solve You” takes on the matter of substance abuse with both hands, an aching heart and a slow dance that seems far more personal. Yes, there are a couple of points where the band could benefit from a second guitar to bolter the sound but overall, Abstractian know what they’re doing [7/10]

Track listing

  1. Driver
  2. My Other Side
  3. Skin Of Chains
  4. Wrath Of The Rain
  5. Rumour
  6. Love Won’t Solve You
  7. Reality Analysis
  8. Vicarious Existence
  9. Killer Bunnies

Box of Frogs (Poison)” by Abstractian is out 4th July via Whitethorn Records and is available over at iTunes

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