Irene, Constructing Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction

Irene, Constructing Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction

I received Irene’s 2004 offering, Constructing Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, wrapped in a letter that said the band was watching me and when I least expected it, they would chop my family members into little pieces, skin my dog alive, then come after me. It was signed in blood by each of the three Oviedo brothers (Dan on guitar and vocals, Hector on bass, and Oscar and drums) and notarized. I thought that the way they had packaged it in a bloody pig stomach and stuck it to my door with a large hunting knife was a nice touch, too. Eliminates the need for stamps.

Kidding. I do have the disc, though, and here are my thoughts:

First, let me say that to do what the Oviedos are doing takes lots and lots of patience and hard work. It is extremely difficult in Houston to play original material and have an audience when most, if not all, of the popular spots want cover bands. It seems like Irene is really making a name for itself, and that’s great.

So, about the music. Maybe the guys in the band were right, and the Limp Bizkit comparisons in my previous review were a little too harsh. I was glad to hear of the Oviedos’ extreme dislike for that band and conscious effort to not sound like them, so I decided to give the band another listen, but this time in the truck. We all know that a vehicle is the best place to listen to music; sometimes it even gives headphones a run for their money. I took it with me one day while going to the bank — the one with the slowest drive-through in the world — and was able to listen to the entire disc from the time I left the house to the time I returned.

Now, following Irene’s little communiqué, I’d started wondering why I would’ve said something to offend somebody so. At times I can be a little harsh, I admit it — it never really hit me that someone would read one of my reviews, I guess. I could have been in a rotten mood the day I wrote it; who knows? At any rate, after hearing the band for the second time, I sort of started to remember.

The music is jumpy, changes time and tempo frequently, and is difficult to really get into. So what? Listen to any Jethro Tull or System of a Down album, and you get the same thing. As far as Irene’s arrangements are concerned, they could be cool — I like the disjointed mellow-to-mad unconventional-ness of it. The problem is that there are very few catchy guitar riffs and drum parts to really draw the listener in. I know it’s cliché, in a way, to say it, but as in dating, there needs to be some initial attraction before the relationship can progress any further. Almost all of the tracks start slow, with sort of ska-like rhythms. Then, just when you think the songs will take off, they don’t. When they finally speed up a bit, Dan Oveido abandons his singing voice and screams at you.

Trying to be different is excellent; however, there are still a couple of unwritten rules to follow when making metal. First, there needs to be great instrumentation — i.e., riffage and drumming. I don’t mean shredding and fillers, mind you; I’m talking good, emotion-filled, intentional playing. Second, it all needs to be big, loud, and obscene. These are the foundations that metal was built upon, but Irene seems to have ignored these two rules. In addition, I found that because the songs have lots of stops and starts, the individual segments within the songs often lack cohesion. Without any sort of common thread, the song parts are like “burps” on the CD. I found myself looking at the track number often, only to realize it hadn’t changed. All in all, I was not impressed with Irene’s debut album. To me, it was very difficult to immerse myself in because of its choppiness and lack of stand-out elements. It seems, however, that Irene is starting to take off, so they must be doing something right, even if they’re not this reviewer’s cup of tea.

(self-released; Irene --
BUY ME: Other

Review by . Review posted Saturday, October 1st, 2005. Filed under Reviews.

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