Monday, March 31, 2014

Akron's Ultrasphinx has a new self-titled CD

Akron Empire would like to welcome guest blogger Dominic Caruso for this review of the new record by Akron rockers, Ultrasphinx. Dominic has also written about Dolly Rocker Ragdoll, Travelogue, the Ultrasphinx/Bad Trouble split 7", and ShiSho. If you're interested in guest blogging or having your local band written about, please email us at AkronEmpire [at] gmail dot com.

This Band Could Be Your Life: Ultrasphinx
by Dominic Caruso

Ultrasphinx album art by D-WREX

Ultrasphinx (Joe Dennis, guitar; Aaron Rogers, bass; and Ian Cummins, drums) has a new full-length self-titled album available digitally now, or as a limited edition CD, available on April 26. The album presents 12 songs in a thoroughly cool 36-minute flurry guitar rock that successfully fuses a number of styles: math-rock, metal, shoegazer, stoner-rock, and punk, into an often hypnotic emulsion.

Several of the new songs pack a wallop into 2 minutes (or less) of focused, precise fury. This includes the disc’s first two songs, “Bark at” and “the Moon,” which build a masterful tension with Dennis’ chiming, fiery guitars atop Rogers’ punchy bass lines and Cummins’ feverish drumming (and just below all that in the mix, is Dennis’ with an Ian Curtis-like vocal delivery). It’s pretty fantastic stuff. As impossible as it would seem, the band just builds more energy, punch, and precision into the next two songs: “X is the Nth Loneliest Number,” and “Useless Phantoms.”

Ultrasphinx at The Saint in Asbury Park, NJ. Photo by Jeff “JCK” Klemm

Versions of “Left Objects” and “Stoned Hearts,” from the group’s 2013 split 7" with Bad Trouble make up a portion of the new record’s core, and they sound excellent in this new context. The stately rhythms and cascading riffs of “Left Objects” drift into the spaced-out “Garden Slugs I,” and the pummeling, defiant “Stoned Hearts” sounds incredible along side the angular, punkiness of “Username _Assword,” a song which might be my favorite of this new batch. Luckily I don't have to choose, and neither do you.

Ultrasphinx at Annabell's in Akron, Ohio - Photo by Matt Stansberry

The instrumental track “Movies About Horses are Stupid” somehow manages to be psychedelic and and totally, expansively metallic in the space of the same minute and thirty seconds. “Tight Leafs” is a glorious blast of hardcore that opens the door to the sprawling eight-minute “Ruling Planets.” The record closes with the contemplative, yet off-kilter “Garden Slugs II.”

Ultrasphinx at the Stone Tavern in Kent, Ohio. Photo by Jason Prufer

What are they singing about? I have no idea. There seems to be a sort of sinister futurism as a running theme throughout the record. “Stoned Hearts” might arguably be a break up song. Or something else entirely. Ultrasphinx is like a number of my favorite bands (like, say, The Fall, or pre-Green R.E.M.): I like them even more because I don’t exactly know what they’re saying. I understand the atmosphere, the mood, and the overall message of uneasiness, tension, and suspicion. The fire Ultrasphinx is bringing couldn’t come at a more opportune time. See their mercilessly propulsive live act around town this spring: they’re well worth the price of admission.

Check out Ultrasphinx
Buy or pre-order the new album:
Friend the heck out of them on Facebook:
Get tweets from them: @Ultrasphinxxx

Ultrasphinx will play live at the Auricle in Canton on Saturday, April 19 (with Jucifer and The Got It Got It Need It); and at the Stone Tavern in Kent on Saturday, April 26 (with Murderedman).

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