Opus Dai - Tierra Tragame
Release Date: March 21, 2006
Record Label: Double Blind Records
Feeling restless and at odds with what I had been listening to for the past few days, it’d be a lie to say it was a pleasure to review Opus Dai’s debut full-length. With the primary focus of the album fixed to explore the recesses of progressive rock, Tierra Tragame attempts to add an open-ended facet to the genre. This effort is hardly accessible, though, lacking a degree of normality to the extent that it will alienate even fans of the genre. Of course, the same could be said with The Mars Volta, a band Opus Dai is compared to, but TMV pull off their brand of prog-rock by effectively using unmistakable strengths in a way that is within reach and actually engaging. Here, ‘70s prog mystique and contemporary cock-rock blend to produce a frustrating, often gritty, psychedelic bore-fest intent on giving you one hell of an audio skull-fuck.
There’s no denying that key member, guitarist Atsushi Miyamoto, is a virtuoso at the guitar and Chrispaul Basso has the range most vocalists can only dream of, but the downfalls on Tierra Tragame, which these two often contribute to, are too much to take. The acoustic “ballads”, seen periodically throughout the album, are so rough around the edges that it becomes a chore to get through the track. “Embers”, probably the worst song you could ever start an album out with, slows to an acoustic crawl alongside Basso’s bogus forlorn whine spitting off garbage such as, “The hands are shovels/That dig holes arm-deep” Taking after Radiohead’s song “Exit Music (For a Film)” more than their prog-rock predecessors, Opus Dai drops a deuce with the equally sedating “Sleepwalk”. Basso, backing the song’s six-string fiddle, frequently rings out too “whimsical”, fitting the role of fairytale narrator more the than a gruff frontman he tries to feel out elsewhere.
Above all else, though, Tierra Tragame bases their more rock based tracks around elongated verses and dominating choruses. “Taken Eye” exhibits a System of a Down influence with Jagger’s blast beats towards the end shaking the very foundations Basso’s throaty growl was attempting to balance itself upon. It is such moments that the album really shines, but like a diamond in a coal mine; it only stands out if you’re looking for it. With the following track, “The Front Line”, Opus Dai show their aptitude for creating two different tempos. Miyamoto setting down a biting guitar line that struggles to merge with Basso’s deaf-mute pitches really hinders the progress of the song, as such with nearly every other track.
Subsidizing a genre where guitarists and vocalists go separate ways entirely, Opus Dai taunt the listeners with an aura of melody and charisma, covering up testy habits barely traceable to previous progressive-rock trademarks. Have fun with this one, boys and girls. The Decoymusic.com community seems to love it, but AP.net knows better, right?