Friday, August 19, 2016

Doom - Complicated Mind

Uncharted Waters

Doom is one of those bands I hold dear to my heart. They started off in the 80s as an awesome thrash band with a really good bassist. But the band would show some unusual tendencies as early as Doom Days. Only a few months before the release of Complicated Mind, the Killing Field EP severely upped the ante and plunged the band deep into progressive territory with its unorthodox approach to thrash and bass virtuosity. But somehow, the Japanese madmen found a way to push the boundaries even further and create something truly unparalleled. Complicated Mind, as the name would imply, is a rather complicated affair with little regard for the concept of genre or standard conventions. Instead, they created one of the most bizarre and innovative progressive metal albums ever.

A few minutes into the album, one thing quickly becomes clear: Doom are absolute masters of rhythm. There are many mind-bending rhythms and unpredictable time signature changes all over this beast. The off-kilter pulse even rivals the likes of Watchtower at times in its utter madness. From a timbre standpoint, Doom also is highly unusual. As it is commonly noted, Fujita seems to channel Piggy at times with the use of weird dissonant chords and solos, but in Complicated Mind he goes a step further. Somehow, he finds a way to intersperse hard rocking and bluesy patterns among the jumbled mess of progressive oddities and balls-to-the-wall thrash. At times, you'll find yourself listening to a killer bluesy solo that would make the greats of the past proud and then find yourself jerked back into thrash. And the weird thing is that this all flows seamlessly feels natural.

The album itself varies widely in terms of the character of the songs. There are some songs, like Bright Light, that lean more on the thrash side with some bizarre touches. There are also some really good hard rocking numbers with progressive flourishes like Fall, Rise and... Then, there are other abstract monsters such as The Boys Dog that center around unique riffs that completely defy normal conventions. Weird spoken word sections also pop up from time to time and work quite well in the backdrop of Fujita's dissonance. Additionally, there are moments of absolute melodic beauty with harmonizing basslines and stunning guitar leads. One special mention goes to Poor Boy Condition which is a crazy instrumental track that features some of the most fun rhythmic patterns I've ever heard. In the middle, the band completely lose their mind with twisty bass lines, spastic drumming, and ominous chords.

All of the band members are about as good as it gets, but Doom's biggest asset is without a doubt Morota on fretless bass. If there is a metal bassist hall of fame out there, this guy undoubtedly needs to be near the very top. In contrast to most fretless players in metal, who seem more interested in making wanking noises as opposed to playing appropriate counterpoint, Morota crushed the competition with his usage of unorthodox embellishments and complicated but fitting basslines. Behind nearly every riff, there is well-written complimentary bass that adds so much more to the experience. He was truly one of the most unique and innovative bassists in metal.

Unsurprisingly, this album is completely laden with Fujita's funny Engrish which adds a little goofiness to the overall character. The lyrics are pretty amusing to read with a fairly poor grasp on the language, but it just adds to the fun for me. Out of Doom's excellent discography, I'd have to say Complicated Mind is my personal favorite work. It has that perfect balance of thrash, prog, hard/blues rock, and all of the other elements that make this band so great. It's forward thinking and completely unique. It's extremely satisfying from a technical standpoint, and the album's songwriting is stunning. Not only would I consider this to be Doom's best work, this easily one of my favorite albums of all time. It simply has all the elements I love in music.

Rating: 100/100

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