The sad fact of being a scene leader is simply this: for every one band you inspire to do something genuinely different and engaging, you inspire ten more bands to imitate you, badly, and spend their careers ripping off and watering down your sound until it is but a pale shadow of its original self. Such was the case of Faith no more. For every brilliant band they helped to inspire (Dillinger Escape Plan, for example) we had to sit through tenth rate dross such as Disturbed and it is no surprise that the band faded into nothingness, disgusted by their own legacy. This was nowhere more evident than in Mike Patton’s decision to head off into uncharted waters on nearly every subsequent project (Lovage and Peeping Tom notwithstanding) and while his latter-day work may not have received the ubiquitous adulation of FNM there were still a faithful few listening intently and taking notes, of whom French crew 6:33 are probably one of the most bizarre and insanely creative in their own right.
Incorporating elements of metal, opera, ambient and hardcore into one dizzying package was never going to be easy or liable to achieve mainstream success – nonetheless 6:33 approach their task with steely determination and the end result is a genre-leaping album that defies pigeon holing, simple categorisation or even an easy review. As a very vague base line, imagine Slayer and DEP duelling with Dog Fashion Disco and Mushroom Head while Aphex Twin DJs in the background and you have a very rough approximation of what this album is likely to do to you. With hints of Devin Townsend’s and Mike Patton’s raging creative impulses and moments of sheer visceral muscularity, there truly is much to admire and it helps that 6:33 all happen to be excellent musicians – something rather essential when making music so mind-meltingly complex.
Opening with a public service warning informing you that the band will not be held responsible for any damage done by the album before launching into a brutally heavy introduction in the form of ‘lift off’ the band cheerfully throw everything but the kitchen sink into the mix form the off over a grinding riff designed to damage eardrums. As cool as the first track is with its chugging guitars and samples, the real magic kicks off on ‘Beretta’ the deranged second track that sees vocals barked out over staccato riffs and deranged honky-tonk piano interludes. It recalls the damaged genius of Fantomas but with significantly more emphasis on metal riffs than total insanity making it all a touch more accessible than, say, ‘suspended animation’ albeit in a similar ball park stylistically. Beautifully played it’s rather like being trapped at a festival between Pavarotti, Dream Theater and a cinema showing Loony Tunes cartoons yet the band somehow manage to marshal the chaos and make it all sound cohesive even while it makes your head spin. ‘Black Becky’ appears next in a haze of lazy trip-hop intercut with terrifying injections of screaming hardcore. Destined to damage your dreams it actually recalls Chris Morris’ disturbing opus ‘Jam’ reduced to a soundtrack and wrapped up in a blanket of the strongest Ketamine on the market. ‘Drunk in Krakow’ meanwhile is a trippy, sexy blast of warped pop music that recalls Peeping Tom in more detail than other tracks here. Possibly the best musical representation of a drunken night out ever recorded, there’s sleaze and gratuitous sex by the bucket load, all underscored by a darker edge than remains unsettling even while the music is smoother than the creamiest latte.
Having lulled you into something of a sense of security the band head off into spacey pastures with the synth-laden ‘Little silly thing part 1’ which somehow crams jazz, metal, lounge and pop all into one brief five minute attack on the senses. ‘Little silly thing part 2’ takes the opposite approach by slowly building to an awesome hard-rock groove via electronic percussion and all manner of orchestral additions thrown into the mix. This couplet sit at the heart of this rather confusingly brilliant record and highlight the sheer diversity on offer. ‘The only one’ opens with a moment of piano-led calm before the guitars come in crushing everything in sight, although that’s only half the story and I haven’t enough space here to fill you in on everything else that happens suffice it to say that 6:33 give Dream Theater a damn good thrashing when it comes to complex changes of mood and style. ‘The fall of pop’ opens with a brilliantly chosen sample overlaid with a slow-building electronic backing and pop-diva moans. It’s a velvet-wrapped, sensual masterpiece gloriously ripped apart by snatches of industrial-esque guitars and it recalls Sisters of mercy taking on Nine inch nails in a gothic cathedral. Sounds appealing? Believe me when I say that no review can easily do justice to the myriad ideas all flowing through this record and if you enjoy artists than consistently challenge your expectations then this is for you.
‘Karmacoma’ is a funky beast, although for every ounce of thumping bass you have moments of thrash, punk and lounge to contend with thus once again defying any expectations you may have had form the tracks intro. ‘Orphan of good manners’ (the title track) closes the disc on the oddest possible note, in case you haven’t already been beaten into submission by the band’s unaffected insanity. It also helps that it has the most annoyingly catchy chorus shoehorned in, just to really mess with your head.
Not everyone will love 6:33. They are not an easy band to love and nor do they intend to be. Music this eclectic is but for a select few and I have no doubt that ‘orphan of good manners’ will irritate at least as many people as it inspires, if not more. And yet, music so utterly uncontrived and fascinating, not to mention so brilliantly played, deserves a listen and a place in the collection of any forward thinking metal fan already excited by acts such as Fantomas and Dream theatre. Diverse, challenging, exciting and original this is a remarkable debut release that will reward patient listeners and terrify those after an instant fix in equal measure. It. Is Awesome.