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Having witnessed, and been incredibly impressed with, the technical precision of Dutch band CiLiCe's self-labelled "mad math metal" during their live performance at last year's ProgPower festival in their home country, I've remained intrigued during the weeks between then and now as to what they're capable of in the studio. When the talented quartet's debut album arrived for review from PMM Records, I was presented with such an opportunity. Aptly titled 'Deranged Headtrip', CiLiCe's cerebrally challenging sonic assault is just that, presented to the listener in nine tracks that dip in and out of musical insanity. Each composition twists and turns through incessantly changing time signatures that are coloured with unpredictably mind-bending aural cacophony but still retain, and never eschew from, quality songwriting. And that is most certainly one of CiLiCe's strengths - the progressive nature of their music is not just for the sake of progression, rather they still write great songs within which the experimental chaos takes place and is, of course, part of. Self-proclaimed influences of Meshuggah, Dillinger Escape Plan, and Mike Patton will give you some idea what to expect although the Dutch four-piece manage to weave such inspirations into an original, unpretentious, and surprisingly accessible whole. The level of musicianship is high, with all members demonstrating a wide vocabulary of their instruments throughout, and frontman Daniel de Jongh's vocals are stunning in both in their diversity and delivery, ranging from incisively biting growls to his melodious clean singing. Produced by CiLiCe themselves, and mixed by one of the band's two guitarists, Remko van der Spek, the music is rich with layers, and songs have a fully resonant, hard-hitting sound that is necessary and effective in conveying their intended dynamic. Labelling their music as "mad math metal" is perhaps slightly misleading, and an injustice to CiLiCe's experimental aesthetic, for the "math metal" tag immediately conjures a sense of formulaic genericism which these Dutchmen are so far elevated above. This is evidenced in the music's variance, precise execution, and innovatively progressive resolution. So if you usually stay well clear of "math metal" bands, I advise you to make an exception for CiLiCe, for they are so much more, from the progressive grooves of 'Malice' to the industrial essence of down-tempo number 'Drone' which is complete with an effectively (and affectively) used cello. Also worthy of note is that the album comes in attractive digipak packaging which is lavishly illustrated with appositely surrealist artwork by someone credited as 'Sicknificant'. There is much to recommend 'Deranged Headtrip'. Go buy now!
PMM Records
Review by Mark Holmes
5th Feb 2009
1) God Of Lies
2) Left Hemisphere
3) Right Hemisphere
4) Mental Breakdown
5) Drone
6) Golem Servants
7) Chernobyl
8) MaLiCe
9) Psychotic Mindwarp
"...unpredictably mind-bending aural cacophony..."