To look at the cover of the Tapewhore album you’d be forgiven for thinking you’ve drifted into Slipknot territory. The murky black artwork slowly reveals the faces of numerous unnamed individuals interspersed with random animals and the effect is somewhat unsettling. It is, therefore, something of a surprise to learn that the band comprises just Alessandro Vagnoni (drums, bass, guitars and vocals) and Enrico Tiberi (Lead vocals, keyboards, accordion and some lead guitar). Musically, rather than the Slipkno-aping brutality one might expect, Tapewhore recall the artier metal of Mudvayne combined with a more restrained version of Fantomas and even hints of tool, with the diabolical duo successfully combining atmospheric flourishes with tooth-shattering riffs and a dynamic sensibility which creates a slightly jarring feel as the tracks lurch and grind their way into the listener’s consciousness.
Impressively, despite there being only two key members in Tapewhore, the album does an impressive job of sounding like there’s a whole army of musicians hell-bent on unleashing the most twisted metal mash-up since Dog Fashion Disco first laid down a track. Here you’ll find vocals torn into shreds and spat out in indiscriminate chunks, sometimes screamed, sometimes clean. Here you’ll find sinus-clearing riffs and unhinged percussion deployed with dizzying violence and, every once in a while, you’ll even find some traditional folk thrown in for no other reason than it sounds cool. With opening track ‘Lorgnette’ the band play it fairly straight, employing neat, writhing riffs and vocals that effortlessly switch from clean harmonies to scarifying screams. As an introduction to both the band and the album it’s a song that captures the attention, recalling the genre-hopping insanity of bands like Faith no more and marking Tapewhore out as a band who can be relied upon solely to be unreliable. ‘School daze’ pitches deathly vocals against huge riffs, stunningly heavy percussion and occasional atmospheric breaks where the song dissipates like a bad dream and only a single guitar sounds in the dark. It adds a sense of tension to the song and keeps the listener hooked. The third track, ‘unplugged’, is anything but, the band heading into Devin Townsend territory with their super-sized riffs and absurdist approach to crafting their music. Brutal, yet with enough idiosyncrasies to stand out from the pack, ‘unplugged’ emphasizes the gloriously eccentric nature of the Tapewhore approach to song-writing. Next up, ‘lent in Paris’ has fun recalling Dillinger Escape Plan’s ‘calculating infinity’ EP with its scarifying, deathly roars, untamed riffs and cataclysmic percussion, not to mention its bizarre digressions which require more than a mere review to do them justice. ‘Matching sidewalks’ is deployed like a WMD, the riffs explosive and gloriously exciting, the vocals delivered with such unhinged venom you can imagine chunks of throat hitting the mic. It’s big, it’s surprisingly clever and it’s permanently on the verge of slipping into something completely different, all of which can only be a good thing.
The album continues its relentless march across the senses with ‘Dayrider’, an initially quieter piece than yet offered up by the band. It doesn’t take long before the heavy riffs return, but it’s a slower, more measured piece and all the better for offering a sense of dynamic that helps to emphasize the speed and devilry of the earlier tracks. Moving back into harder, faster pastures ‘skeleton love’ offers up taut, grinding riffs, a full-tilt pace and some blistering solos. It’s an album highlight and, by virtue of being a touch more restrained than other pieces, an ideal starting point for those who want to explore the record. In contrast, ‘hand and glove with mothers’ revels in its antisocial riffing and awkward time signatures. Like Jello Biafra fronting Meshuggah, it’s a bruising mashup of the melodic and the malevolent, the punk and the puritanical metal freak, the deathly and the demonic and it will leave listeners breathless. As much as the title might ape Pink Floyd, the punning ‘we don’t need no consolation’ is a vicious grind with a heart of darkness and a Mike Patton-esque vocal whilst ‘the pirates song’ has one of the album’s most straight forward riffs powering it. The insanity takes a brief break as ‘afterglow’ employs the sound of the carnival as filtered through the mind of a psychotic clown only for the band to do an abrupt u-turn and unleash a riff that’s pure death metal just as you’ve gotten use to a more delicate form of rampant psychosis. It’s another perfect example of tapewhore fucking with the formula and getting away with it, and it once again hints at a strong affection for Mike Patton and his gleefully eccentric ways. The album ends with the carefully controlled rage of ‘Emesis Divina’, a biting, incisive track that provides the album with a suitably memorable and chaotic close.
Tapewhore are, as the name might suggest, the equivalent of a schizophrenic compilation album drawing together the likes of Cradle of filth, fantomas, faith no more, tool and meshuggah and layering them one over the other until the resulting mess starts to make some sort of sense. It’s an original approach applied to familiar influences and the result is something that is quite uniquely satisfying. The sort of record you’ll be happy to play to your friends, but for god’s sake don’t try to mosh to it, you’ll end up in traction! For those who like their metal eccentric and off the wall, Tapewhore are slickly produced, musically capable and mentally unstable. The album is unhinged, unholy and a whole lot of fun and will certainly appeal to all you eccentrics out there.