||The debut album of this Nebraskan act, which shared the stage with Powerman 5000, Crobot, Trapt, Michael Angelo Batio, Rings Of Saturn, Flaw, Entheos, Okilly Dokilly, (Hed) Pe, American Head Charge and many more, represents an important step to innovation within Metal, Punk and Alternative Rock almost always much rewarding to the ear. The bands that inspired Flux Amuck were quite novel when they released their first albums and are still interesting, yet on this record their music, blended with the combo's unique stylistic choices, enjoys a successful personal interpretation very often. In the end, the definitive result is one that never bores the listener after repeated replays, who keeps being convinced that these 38 minutes are high quality compositions worth their time even one year after the first approach.
This is exactly what has happened to me as I re-listened to the CD for a review only about a year after the delivery. I like that the details enriching the songs that I missed back then, now prove to be an unfailable weapon
to capture the attention, and I'm talking both about the music and the digipack front cover. The layout of the front cover was realized by two artists on a background of far-away stars and depicts two astronauts with completely black eyes gravitating roughly a hundred feet over a planet where they left their spaceship. The spacemen, the ship and the planet they landed on, as well as Saturn and its satellites are all in black and white except a few planets and the contour of a black hole acting as a portal to another dimension; one of the two sad cosmonauts' right hand penetrates the cloudy opening and his hand can be seen in the second part of the layout where vivid colors dominate the picture. Here you can see the right hand become gigantic, a larger complex spaceship, several planets, a cosmic burst, multiple galaxies, two suns in diverse colors and an atom in green; green is real important as it was also used for the monicker and title of the album. All of that probably portraits a better, enhanced, striking, weird reality in comparison with the one usually lived by the two men, and symbolically refers to the five piece's music, too, capable of bringing you away from conventional, trite and tedious tunes. After all, isn't the ensemble's motto 'weird music for awesome people'?
On the back of the disk case
we can see a white spiral giving the impression of spinning rapidly; inside is the main color to Omaha's quick-wittedly named quintet, green, here balanced with white and black, perfectly matching the spaceship on the case and on the disc.
On the musical side, opener "Pretorius" reconciles the impetuosity and abrasiveness of Punk/Hardcore with the burliness of Metal, revealing itself to be an indestructible machine. Drawing guidance from Mr. Bungle, it can be scraping sometimes and catchy in other moments, it recurs to occasional spatial sounds in the background until melodic bass guitar lines deviate from the main theme along with dilated vocals and screeching guitars.
Released earlier than the other tracks as a single, "Sci-fi Western" has a corresponding hallucinated video derived from a true story (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=23SFRLvpypM); the harmony appears to be No Means No-influenced, includes a Faith No More-like refrain, and possesses vocals ranging from circus-styled to the most wicked ones (think of screams halfway between some kind of Black Metal and Hardcore). Worth being noted are also a stubborn axe solo and pungent licks accompanying us until the conclusion.
Death, Punk, Prog and Funk Metal coexist in "Caterpillar" prior to a guitar solo in the vein of Rage Against The Machine and a finalè sounding like Confessor (USA) with additional empyrean keyboards lines!
"Thanks, We'll Call You" is a brief interlude with spoken vocals and slapped bass lines as main attractions. It is followed by "Standard of Excellence", which begins with a stealthy step and later explodes with FNMoresque vocals and riffs owing a tad to 24-7 Spyz', to then turn atmospherical for a while a couple of times utilizing vocals not distant from mid-career Depeche Mode. Jazz Rock drumming leads us almost to the end before unrestrainable hysterical screaming manifests in the last seconds just when you thought it was over. There can be no doubts: this is the Flux Amuck composition comprising all of its facades.
Belonging more in the Technical Metal
sector, "Reptilian Sun" advances between echoes of Watchtower and Anacrusis, still it doesn't sound like something from the 90s or it has less appeal than the tunes in fashion nowadays; it's just diverse, as all of their official videos, and also the disquieting one matching this song (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jwYzIwJAybg), which some relate to Tool's visual opera. Going back to the sonic aspects, it has to be said that piece contains a rhythmic break in which heartfelt and onirical vocals travel together with a mildly distorted guitar just before a tight Metal structure displays more and more penetrating drumwork. The closure is entrusted with the vocalist speaking and a tapping guitar which later goes solo on the trail of the early Dave Mustaine.
Based upon a lugubrious inception, the seventh track "Emperor" enjoys sporadical decadent sonic embellishments by keyboards within a Prog/Art Metal frame; aftwerwards dashing song portions and other slapped bass lines intervene, more such as Infectious Grooves' cadences on steroids, while next a slow tempo with pretty theatrical vocal parts, guitar licks and reverberated guitars occupy the conclusive moments of the melody.
Shorter than one minute and a half, "Intercepted Transmission"
represents the second intermezzo, reminding some Primus's and Sausage's tunes during its entirely instrumental path ending into an electronic noises vortex.
The arrangement of "Panko" kicks off with a nervous pattern prompting slamdancing, then everything abruptly changes to a Malmsteenian solo; the refrain and the vocals crush all they meet in their way, sounding like a slow-motion version of some of Pantera's "Cowboys from Hell" riffage. The final jumps back to thumping mid-paced beats that show Omaha's act does have its own style and show it completely when it comes the time.
Surprisingly romantic, "Debris", owns extra female vocals whispering and
possesses magnetism similar to a most gentle Mike Patton's; a weird musical fragment and an Alternative Metal one ensue, with female vocals of different nature that were mixed lower.
The title track is opened by a riff close to Slipknot even though the vocals are dissimilar; there's then a time variation sending back to the nineties, the bass slaps, assorted noises show up with a slightly distorted guitar; a guitar lick leads to e heavier section and the Slipknot riff
heard in the beginning, whereas the finishing instants are adorned with a very technical guitar solo (probably the best of the 12 tracks here included) and effected vocals fading out. There's a crazy video dropped at the start of April 2020 to promote the song (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0W__M7ZmHAk), which is a must-see thanks to its blend of shocking, horrorific and funny elements.
The twelfth song mysteriously bears no name. It commences in a sleepy tone with a normal guitar and an out of tune instrument plus menacious noises from one speaker made with a deformed theramin; the guitarist goes solo for a long time till sounds from the otherworld pop in, emphasized by the total absence of vocals all along.
If the digipack contained a booklet with lyrics, photos, etc., it would be perfect; notwithstanding this small fault, technical skills, great composing capacities and the use of unusual musical instruments for Metal and Punk make "The Alternate" a worthy album still too unnoticed a year after its issue. I have decided to publish this review today not because it's Easter in Catholic countries like mine or because I'm bored home waiting for the coronavirus pandemic to be over with, but since today it's April 12, 2020: exactly 61 years ago Jurij Gagarin was launched on Vostok 1 as first man come back alive from a space mission. One of his most famous quotes sums up feelings you can perceive during the listening of Flux Amuck's debut record, which is all founded on galaxial subjects:
What beauty. I saw clouds and their light shadows on the distant dear earth…. The water looked like darkish, slightly gleaming spots…. When I watched the horizon, I saw the abrupt, contrasting transition from the earth’s light-colored surface to the absolutely black sky. I enjoyed the rich color spectrum of the earth. It is surrounded by a light blue aureole that gradually darkens, becoming turquiose, dark blue, violet, and finally coal black."