When Audiotopsy came bursting onto the scene against what they considered to be overwhelming odds, they quickly overcame those odds as a welcomed surprise with a big debut. The hybrid outfit, comprised of members from Hellyeah, Skrape and, most notably, Mudvayne, brought some interesting things to the table. Their first offering, ‘Natural Causes’, stripped the band of their connoted notoriety, making Audiotopsy a name all of its own. Yet the bands newest album, ‘The Real Now’, set for release November 2nd, three years since they first emerged, doesn’t look, or sound, as glorious.
Leading single “What Am I?” works about as well as an Alice In Chains cover band producing original material in their spare time, never quite letting go of that doom laden grunge sound. Nothing new, nothing special, nothing memorable. “War”, outside of its high octane pre-chorus picking riff, insists on being dull. With the calibre of musicians a band like Audiotopsy is made up of, these initial teases do little, if anything, to heighten excitement for what may be lying ahead.
Guitarist Greg Tribbett and drummer Matt McDonough, both previously of Mudvayne, have proved several times over that when put together they can be an incredible musical force. Nowhere on ‘The Real Now’ is this camaraderie, this beloved chemistry realized. “Hologram” might show some technical promise, with prominent guitars impressively locking in with McDonough’s intense playing, but in truth, no sooner has it passed, it falls, once again, among the forgettable. If the record does feature a saving grace, it would be “Fade Away”. Here the vocal performance from Billy Keeton not only succeeds in getting the blood pumping as much as squeezing a rubber stress ball would, it lifts an otherwise timid number to new heights. Never more so than in his chants that loosely echo the trademark bellows coined by David Draiman of Disturbed, being easily the most innovative if not original moments on the entire record.
As the eight track album begins to wind down, Audiotopsy take a stab at something a little more melancholy. Unfortunately, they don’t thrive here either. “Hurt Down”, while no doubt painfully personal and resonant to its creators, is about as emotionally moving as buttering toast. Throwing an acoustic guitar and brooding vocals into a song don’t always make it an emotional powerhouse. Nor necessarily do big explosive moments when the whole band kicks in, at least what is supposed to be the whole band, for bassist Perry Stern has a disappointingly minimal presence on the album.
This is not a record that feels lazy, or has low production qualities, or has been uncared for. There is evidently a lot of love and nurturing that has been given here. However, ‘The Real Now’ simply lacks any real sense of atmosphere or purpose. It staggers its way through a grey musical landscape and adds little to no colour along the way. Audiotopsy is made up of stellar musicians who have produced some great music on many occasions. This is not one of them. One can only hope this signifies a band in transition, with their next endeavour showing what they can really do.