Giant Battle Monster, Giant Battle Monster vs. The Man With a Gun for a Head
Okay, I give: I’m not entirely sure what to make of Giant Battle Monster’s seven-track EP, Giant Battle Monster vs. The Man With a Gun for a Head. It’s a bewildering, chaotic listen, wedged halfway between mind-melting prog-metal, weird-ass pseudo-screamo, Dadaism, and…hell, I have no idea what. The whole thing starts off with the oddball video-game bleeps and bloops of “Bill Spiller” — which makes a strange kind of sense, honestly, because there’s a seriously ADD-addled video game fanatic vibe to everything — but shifts quickly to the stomping, crunching surrealism of “Man With a Gun for a Head,” which marries seemingly stream-of-consciousness lyrics to weird, spastic, metallic noise-prog rock, then throws in at least a little more melody for “Dog of Man,” which subsequently devolves into meditative noise before coming back in with the heavy guitars.
Tracks like “Avoiding Fornication!” make me think of The Paper Chase’s John Congleton, but that’s mostly the vocals; there’s no Paper Chase-esque sinister-ness here, not really, just wild-eyed, off-their-meds weirdness. The end result is possibly closest to the late, great Bring Back The Guns, partly because both bands run in a frantic, desperate groove and play like they’re really too damn smart for their own good. Giant Battle Monster come off like those freaky kids who nobody else in school can understand because they’re so ridiculously bright, the ones whose collective sense of entertainment is on a completely different plane from the average kid. Oddly, the most “straight” track on here is the last one, an instrumental entitled either “Penguin” or “Pengwin” (sorry; the font’s a little hard to read) that dwells at least partly in Pelican-land, with its crushing riffs, soaring melodic passages, and heroic drumming.
And yes, I like it. The Man With a Gun for a Head isn’t easy to listen to, by any means, but I find myself nodding along and grinning as it runs, and then I zip back ’round to the beginning for another dose. Maybe on some level I’m figuring that if I listen to it enough, I’ll “get” it; I dunno, and in any case, I’m probably deluding myself in that regard. Still, this EP’s a fantastically sprawling, mesmerizing mess, lunging in all directions like some kind of many-headed prog-metal-playing beast anchored to the floor with adamantium chains, and it practically demands full attention — I made the mistake of first listening to the disc as background while doing other things, and when it finished, I felt uncomfortable and confused, unsure what the hell I’d just heard. Listen close; it’s worth the effort.