September 22, 2007

CD Review: Invitro - When I Was a Planet

Playing some sort of combination of punk and hard rock with touches of stoner and metal, Invitro is storming the shelves and trying to take over your mind! Their debut release, When I Was a Planet, sounds to be on the verge of fertilizing your ears with an infectious sound that cannot be categorized. All this while they perform their musical operations in lab coats and tin foil. I think that about covers it. To be honest, I am still in the midst of forming an opinion on these guys. The sound is definitely unique, slightly odd, and I cannot really compare them to anyone else at the moment. The only problem is that being different, unique, and odd can be very different things from actually being good. Being good is something I am not sure can be applied to Invitro.

The band definitely has an absurdist sense of humor in their approach. In a way, Invitro would likely be at home in the animated realm of Dethklok (Metalocalypse). For example, check songs like "King" with its talk of Burger King and "Comb Over Party" whose name alone brings up images of a skullet. Combine that with a frenetic pace and energy that is all over the map. For as middling as the final product may be, the energy is downright infectious. It is that energy which really saved it for me. It was not without some effort that it saved it in my eyes from being a trainwreck of weirdness for weirdness sake.

On my first pass through, I wasn't quite sure what to think of it. Was this supposed to be taken seriously? What kind of music was it? It seemed like they were playing random parts with no frame of reference to put it into. That is likely the point. This is music played with no intentions of buying into any type of corporate plan for success or pandering to suits in order to make a buck.

The more I listened, the more When I Was a Planet seemed to make sense. I hesitate to call it good, but I will call it potentially good. Meaning, with another album or two to hone their plan this could prove to be an interesting seed that initiates the growth of a band forging ahead in their own fashion. At this stage, it sounds more like a band looking to find their way. Invitro is making an attempt to stay away from the mainstream and create a new direction.

Perhaps it would be best to view this album as an experiment. Maybe it could be put in a category similar to Rob Zombie's film House of 1000 Corpses. That movie was like an experiment in filmmaking where Zombie compiled all of his influences and ideas into one big screen mash-up. Some of it worked, some of it didn't. He took that experiment and distilled out his own personal vision and turned out a gritty 70's era grindhouse style flick in the genius The Devil's Rejects. That could be what is going on here, an experiment that will be distilled to a finer focus that results in a fantastic sophomore outing.

Bottomline. A middling experience to be sure, Invitro could grow into an interesting voice. This is an album that I cannot fully recommend, but may be worth checking out by the curious. I have a feeling that we will be hearing more from these guys down the road.

Mildly Recommended.


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