Saturday, August 15, 2015

Infected Mushroom Part 3: the Rock Period

Hey y'all.  So at this point, Infected Mushroom started to really hit those rock/metal elements hard. This was not a smooth transition with a two disc feature, but a sudden bang into a violent new sound that prevails to this day.  Some met it with great gnashing of teeth, while others came into the fold with the sweet sounds that are a little more palatable to the general public.  Emphasis on little.  My mainstream sister would still flee in panic as fast as she could from this.

(I once had a manager who said she'd throw my Paul Oakenfold cd out of the window if it were her daughter's.  If Oakenfold scares her, I'd better not say anything about Duvdev and Eisen...)

The thing about this is that there was a concern over losing a lot of the trippiness that made Infected Mushroom unique.  They have gone from the intelligent, thinker's psytrance to more of a thematically metal sound, even when the songs themselves weren't technically metal.  It feels like instead of infusing their songs with philosophical dwellings, they infuse them instead with raw, emotional power.  Which raw, emotional power works better depends on which album you're talking about.

Album #6: Vicious Delicious

Oh, let the hate begin. The shocking thing about this is, despite the change in tone, it's actually better than IM the Supervisor in terms of overall hits.  There are more songs on this album that I, and probably a fair number of other people, would re-listen to than on Supervisor.

The one downside to this album is that the emotional tone of the album feels immature.  It's very much like those non-electric albums that emerged around 2001-2005, in that it's something that is very appealing to melodramatic teenage males who think life is reminiscent of Grand Theft Auto. Electronic AFI, if you will.  While some songs rise above this, all of the songs with lyrics suffer to varying degrees of emo-ism.  It's hard to blame any previous fan for being put off by it.

On the other hand, as a 90s kid, I can tolerate a high level of cheese.  That, and some of the tracks use nu metal sounds effectively.  A lot of this stuff is enjoyable if you don't take it seriously.  Not to mention there's at least a couple of tracks that keep the psytrance kids happy.

Before I go on, I have to say, this is the single worst album cover IM has ever had.

There's variants to this, but none different enough to matter.

My main complaint about it is that it's boring.  It's cliche.  It lacks the broad detail of the majority of IM's album covers.  While The Gathering's cover was immature, and BP Empire's was obtuse, they both had loads of visual interest and were packed with detail that only made the eye wander around, trying to figure out what was going on. The only visual interest with this cover is the color scheme, and the proportion of the doll-girl's eyes and nose.  There's no depth at all.

This cover is most comparable to Converting Vegetarians', in that both covers are based around one concept with one specific message, rather than a world of some sort.  The reason why Converting Vegetarians' cover works better is because its message was so odd it was fascinating: it's a combination of the hilarity of tempting a vegetarian with a brain, and creepy with its inherent violence.  It's a concept that would not have been thought of by most people because it's so out there. That, and the color scheme is relaxing to the eye.

Yet Vicious Delicious' cover is firmly rooted in the cliche.  Sure, it's got inherent violence, but that's all it's got.  A girl eating her own heart out?  That's just violence for violence's sake.  There's no odd conceptual background that would make it interesting.  This could go on any metal album and not make a difference.  Not to mention that it isn't scary at all.  It's like looking at a CGI werewolf.  You know you're supposed to be creeped out, but you're not.  This is the exact kind of cover I would walk past without a second look, if I saw it in a store.


1. Becoming Insane.
Like I said before this is one of the first two songs I've ever heard for Infected Mushroom.  I really like it.  That is, I like the beginning and the part that starts halfway through.  The annoying thing about a lot of "extended" or "album mixes" for electronic songs is that they don't add anything truly interesting to the song, but just have some mediocre breakdown before or after the truly interesting parts of the song.  That's the case here, from 26 seconds in until the 3:20 point.  It's not awful, just dull.  It probably works well in dance clubs, though.

As for the rest of the song, it's a fun mix of spanish and english, about someone going insane.  Lots of implied violence, craziness, and extreme vocals.  The voy perdiendo part is perfect for screaming at the top of your lungs.

As an aside, the music video to this song is conceptually boring.  It's supposed to be exciting that we're watching two people beating themselves up, but it's too simple an idea.  Plus, Fight Club did it better.

2. Artillery
This song makes me laugh so hard.  It's supposed to be all hard and edgy, but it's really not.  The song itself is okay, but the lyrics are so silly.  "I'm the Lone Ranger, looking for Pocahontas"?  Um, the Lone Ranger is a fictitious character, as opposed to the real Pocahontas.  Not to mention that Pocahontas was dead by the time the Lone Ranger show was set.

What shocked me about this song is that Swollen Members did the rap.  I'm not too into their stuff, but I was awed by their song Deep End, the chorus of which was pure poetry.  Artillery was rather less than.  Maybe Swollen Members is too grim for the generally fun/deep sound of Infected Mushroom.  I don't know who wrote the lyrics here, but they needed a rewrite before anyone could take them seriously.

This isn't even close to psytrance, and the cheese here is mighty powerful.  That being said, this is kind of a guilty pleasure for me.  I love the cheese, particularly at the part where Amit goes "WITH ARTILLERY, WITH ARTILLERY, WITH A-RATATATATA!"  It makes me laugh, which is probably not even close to what IM intended.

3. Vicious Delicious
Ah, actually recognisable, genuine electronic music.  This song is great and full of life.  Surprisingly enough, it's more of a callback to BP Empire and Classical Mushroom than one would expect.  Sure, the sound is different, but it effectively uses song progression in the same way the older albums would, incorporating different samples at different parts in the form of a story.  This is instead of the songs having the simpler use of sampling present in IM the Supervisor.  The variety and oddity create a perfect blend of what it truly means to be IM.

4. Heavyweight
Hey, psytrance!  Cool.  There's some gorgeous sound in here.  Like the title song, it also employs a wide variety of samples and emotion.  The difference is that while Vicious Delicious is more dancey, Heavyweight is more of a thinking song.  They're both of the same high quality, though.  A bit of this song sounds a bit like the Starcraft 2 soundtrack.

5. Suliman
Compared to the other two, it's not quite as complex.  That's okay, as after two complex songs, it's okay to take a break.  Can't eat too much chocolate.  Some sampling near the beginning adds an element of humor, but overall the song is fairly serious in tone.  This song seems to follow the trends of a metal song a little more closely than the two previous.  Not that I had anything but a good time listening to this one.

6. Forgive Me
Easily the worst song on the album.  While this was a fine place on the album for a tone break, the opening beat on this song is immediately in the realm of high cheese.  And then the lyrics come in. Both their content and the way the voice is modulated are super, super no.  This is pure 80s cheese. Seriously, get out your leg warmers and neon pink headbands.  You could not possibly cheese this cheese.  I like the background music at about the 2:37 mark, where the electronic guitars kick in, but it doesn't make up for the silliness of the rest of the song.  On the upside, it's not so bad you'll want to stab your own ears out.

7. Special Place
It starts from a moderately typical electronic place, but the sound is nice enough.  It definitely lacks the complexity of other songs on the album.  On the other hand, it's not bad, and at the four minute mark things really start to get going.  The lyrics are somewhat silly, but not to any degree unexpected of the electronic genre.  I'm not so fond of the build up 5:22-5:50.  Overall, it's good, but not one of IM's standouts.

8. In Front of Me
Let's be clear.  This isn't trance, techno, or house.  It's a slow metal song with electronic elements. The sound and emotional tone of this song are completely outside the electronic family.  Good thing I love it.  Slow metal is one of my favorite things.  Despite the depressing lyrics, something about them and the way they're sung makes me feel happy.  Happy like sitting in the rain, listening to the raindrops hit the roof of the car.

9.  Eat it Raw
Clearly for the more "spiked collar" crowd.  The metal sounds (literal metal, like hitting metal tent pegs or train rails) are designed to appeal to people who see the title "Eat it Raw" and expect grim satisfaction. Though I very much love the trumpet sounds at about two and a half minutes.  The way it ends is nice.  It does its job as an emo song, and I'm sure there are plenty of people out there who like it a lot.  For me, it's just kind of there.

10. Change the Formality
This feels like their most technically experimental track on the disc.  There are lots of great sounds added in, blended into an odd concoction.  I love how it gets all creepy, before the semi-calming chimes start to signify upcoming lyrics.  Lyrics which I love, by the way.  They're great for scaring away people too hooked on pop songs.  I am now suddenly filled with the urge to sing these lyrics in some kind of song competition where everybody else is blasting out love ballads.

A nice thing about this track is that the lyrics are used only as another sample, and they don't overwhelm the song.  The downside is that this song can quickly become an earworm at work, and the short lyrics on loop in your head for an hour are sure to get annoying.

11. Before
While I don't particularly care for the beginning, it goes on a trip after about two and a half minutes in.  This is perhaps the only song on the album that makes me genuinely feel entranced.  The more it goes along, the better it gets.  Wow.

Artillery is the theme of this album.  While there's lots of good sound here, Infected Mushroom clearly needed to cheer up.  They aren't edgy goths, emo kids, street thugs, or anything like that. They're a couple of nice Israeli boys that like to make music, not nearly as edgy as they think they are.  This release was a fun experiment, but they don't need to try to be something they're not.  I'm fine with it as it is, though.  Just so long as they never go quite this emo ever again.

According to my research, however, IM's popularity went through the roof with this album.  They managed to score high on DJ Mag's top 100 DJs about this time,  and even some mainstream people I know can recall hearing about Infected Mushroom at this time.  They obviously did something people really liked to attract all this attention, older fans aside.

#7: Legend of the Black Shawarma
Apparently this started off as an album dedicated to all the places Infected Mushroom liked to eat, even to the point of naming certain songs after their favorite restaurants.  Uh...well, Weird Al had a food album too.  I'll go with it.

To me, this album feels the most like a story, like all the songs go together for a specific message. This is emphasized by the similar sounds of the first, second, and second last tracks.  They are very metal, very soundtrack-y, and do the most to tie the album into its cover art.

This is a lovely album cover, and certainly not boring.  I love the idea of grim fairy tale creatures all in the forest, enjoying some nice shawarma in the cold forest.  It's disturbing without necessarily being evil or violent.  Plus, there's a lot to look at.  I particularly like the giant on the left side.  This is all in all a really good album cover.  It doesn't scream psytrance, but it matches the songs pretty well.

One thing that surprised me as I've been listening to each track in detail is that while Vicious Delicious' sound was a shock to all previous fans, it was closer to psytrance than this album.  This album, while having a far less emo feel, goes even further away from IM's origins.

1. Poquito Mas
This is a great sounding track, but clearly and precisely edited into an intro.  Very rock-heavy, and the build up into the ending illustrates what this track was meant to be.  It's a great song, but it doesn't have the meditative depth of much of IM's work.  Not that I don't like it for what it is.

2. Saeed
I have listened to this song a bajillion times.  I love it.  The lyrics are exactly perfect for an electronic song, and it's very fun electro rock.  The psytrance purists might turn up their nose at this offering, but anyone with real appreciation for music will like this track.  To me, it's another adventure track from IM, only using more lyrics to blend with the music.

3. End of the Road
Pretty cool beginning, but clearly more rock than trance.  The trance builds up as the song goes on. Great for a filler song at first, but the ending is where the jam session really gets going.  Not the best, not the worst.

4. Smashing the Opponent
Once again, we have to call into question whether or not this is a proper electronic song.  I'm more on the "no" side.  This song fits just nicely into a rock concert.  It doesn't help that they have a singer from Korn on the vocals.  Sheesh, first Swollen Members, now Korn.  IM has all the connections.

While I normally shy away from celebrity-ism in all its forms, Jonathan Davis' performance adds to this song rather than taking from it.  Initially, I was reluctant to get into this song, having started off by watching the music video (Paul Oakenfold??  ...DJ Von Douche?  Really?).  My thanks to Candie Estrada for posting a lyric video, because when you strip away the big names and the frenetic music video, what do we have left?  A genius song.

Despite the violence inherent in this type of sound, the lyrics themselves are more about someone admitting that they did wrong, and accepting that they deserve consequences for it.  That concept alone makes me love this song to pieces.  Singers are all the time going on about how great they are and how much money they have.  How wonderful is it that there's a song out there about regret and accepting responsibility?  Such a good one, to boot?

5. Can't Stop
Ah, here we go.  Okay, so this one is more familiar territory for IM.  Oh wait, that's just the intro.  I wish this part lasted a bit longer, but the rock part that starts three or so minutes in isn't bad.  The lyrics seem too depressing for the fun song this is, but they don't hurt the song.  It gets techno-ish five minutes in, and from there brings the energy.  Not bad.

6. Herbert the Pervert.
I always skip this song.  Like my last skippable song, Horus the Chorus, I'm sure that IM chose the title only because it sounded "cool" or something.  It's even the same rhyming structure.  However, I can't bring myself to listen to a song called "Herbert the Pervert."  It's just too stupid.  Next!

7. Killing Time
The beginning lyrics are pretty emo, but when the chorus hits, the melody starts really working.  This feels somewhat in the vein of Converting Vegetarian's second disc, only more rock-ish.  For what it is, I enjoy it.  For some reason, it feels like the band DC Talk is singing it.  Perry Farrell, eh?  Nice voice, bro.  Again, not really psytrance, and the cheese/emo factor is bound to scare a lot of people off.  It feels like a part 2 to last album's In Front of Me, but it lacks the cool drama the first song had.

8. Project 100
This is the single most glorious intro an IM song has ever had.  After that it mellows somewhat, ending up sounding remarkably like the soundtrack to a new Mortal Kombat movie.  No really, imagine Liu Kang and Sub Zero squaring off while this is in the background.  One of the more complicated tracks on this cd, and I genuinely love the part about five minutes in.  Glorious adventure rockstep right here.  One of the best tracks on the album, particularly for true trance fans.

9. Franks
Huh, I guess they wanted to save their least rock-like songs for later, because this feels closer to true trance/techno.  It's good.  It feels like the part of the movie where the good guys are in their spaceships, trying to infiltrate an enemy space armada.  It gets better as it goes on.  I were an animator, I'd totally get on that space battle scene.  Let's see, that's the part where the enemy alarms go off, and the agents are now running back to their fighters, then the mothership comes into comes the fleet!  ATTACK!

10. Slowly
The more you listen to it, the more fun it is.  Very peppy, nice experiment with songs.  For some reason it reminds me of the Rocky soundtrack, at parts.  Like Franks, this is a song that gets better over time.  It's not as good as Franks, though.

11. The Legend of the Black Shawarma
Here's where it's at.  A great song.  Particularly for a trailer.  It's a somewhat traditional song -- it's a warning against bad decisions and not taking advantage of the time to get away from some great, unspoken monster.  As much as I like this song, it's hard not to listen when people complain that this is too mainstream.  Granted, it's in the good part of demi-mainstream, not all the way in, and not the crappy kind.  After a rockstep first few minutes, the lyrics kick in, demanding the listener examine himself and realize what he's done wrong.

I can call it mainstream, but I can't make myself hate it.  I love this to pieces.

12. Riders on the Storm [Infected Mushroom Remix]
I don't think I can ever forgive this song for growing on me.  The lyrics are in the realm of high cheese, sounding exactly like they were lifted from a country/western.  Turns out they come from the jazz pop hit of the same name by the Doors.  It's strange how the same words can feel...well, not entirely un-cheesy, but at least not nearly so country/western in the original.  It worked in the Doors version because the music there compensated for the cheese factor.  I don't hate non-modern c/w, but it sure as mess doesn't match electronic music.

However, once you take away the words, this is a nice song.  Country/western doesn't match this album, but removing the lyrics solves that problem.  So now all I have to do is convince the studio to release an instrumental.  I wonder how I can do that.

I'm of two minds about this album.  While I've discovered IM only recently and therefore have no bias toward previous music, I like this album a lot.  It's a very cinematic collection of songs, one that could easily be the soundtrack to a film.  I've listened to this album a lot, and I will again in the future.

On the other hand, this doesn't have the oddity and uniqueness I've come to expect from the band.  In fact, after my research, I've come to the conclusion that his album is what burst their popularity bubble.  They wasted the first impression Vicious Delicious gave them by making so many of their songs rock and metal.  Only Project 100, Franks, and Slowly are reminiscent of the kind of works IM usually does (Herbert the Pervert aside).  So while Vicious had only four songs that were questionably non-electronic, Black Shawarma has three (four?) that are really electronic.  The listener is not rewarded for listening closely to most of the songs.

While I respect this album and IM's desire to go into different sounds, it would have been wiser on their part to back away on the rock elements for at least one more album, so that they could build up more of an audience.  It's super weird for IM to be #9 on DJ Mag's list one year, and then suddenly fall back to the 30-50 area, remaining there to this day.

My guess is that IM isn't really sure what makes them popular.  They think one thing, but their audience thinks another.  Oh well, if you get bogged down on what other people think of you, you'll never get anything done. 

To be fair, this is the most mainstream album IM has ever done.  It's also the point when they decided to ease up on the rock/metal, and come closer back to the electronic side.  Or they just got bored of it and wanted to try something different.  Whichever.

#8: Army of Mushrooms

This particular album got a lot of people whining.  If they didn't get it with the past two albums, old fans are forced to accept that Infected Mushroom has changed.  To be honest, after having listened to all of the albums in a row, I can really feel their progression and maturity.  Granted, as this album proves, they haven't matured entirely.  It's more like they went from fourteen year olds trying to impress their edgy friends (The Gathering) to nineteen year old college freshmen: kids learning to see things from a broader perspective, but still all about partying and staying young at heart (Army of Mushrooms).

Army of Mushrooms feels the least cohesive of all their releases.  All the other albums felt based on a certain musical concept, and this one just feels like a collection of songs IM felt like doing. The only cohesiveness is the selection of dubstep sounds that span most of the songs on the disc.  That alone doesn't make the whole thing stick together.  Some songs seem like they'd feel almost at home on other albums -- Wanted To on Converting Vegetarians disc 2, and The Pretender on Black Shawarma, for example.

I say almost because this album is way more relaxed than every single previous release.  It's not trying too hard to be psytrance art, a meaningful genre-blend experiment, or a rockstep edge fest.  It's just IM doing what they want to do, hoping everybody else appreciates it.  Granted, the dubstep elements scare people off, but IM is IM, not Skrillex.  They aren't using dubstep to appear to be cool, they're just using it because it's a sound that's around these days, and IM has never been shy of trying sounds and samples they haven't done before.  In most of the songs here, they bring their passion and sense of fun into the dubstep, so only the people who run screaming at the sound of a single "wub wub" will have a problem with it.  It's not like it's overwhelming, anyway.

The album cover is my single favorite they've ever done.  I won't say it's the best (subjectivity is more often in the best things than in the worst), but it's a gorgeous, storytelling piece with lots of visual interest.  The viewer can imagine the world being slowly overcome by fungi, and the only one who can save us all is a brave knight with fire shooting out of his head.  Though I have no idea how he intends to fight a mushroom several times his mass with a spear that's a toothpick by comparison.

Doesn't at all match the album, though.  The songs here are more on the calmer side, while that cover is straight out of the land of metal.  Not that I'm complaining.  I sure like looking at it.

Let's talk about zee music now.

1. Nevermind
I don't get the title, but the song is a great album opener.  This is what dubstep should be: something party, anthem, and mixed up with humor.  It's not the dubstep sound that makes a song good, but creative use of it.  This song is absolutely not serious.  It's like cartoon astronauts flying into space, only to discover aliens having a disco party.  Not particularly complex, but a lot of fun.

2. Nothing to Say
This title seems to match and not match at the same time.  The song is comparatively relaxed and happy, a lot like Elation Station on CV disc 2.  Only this is more electrified.  Perhaps the person has nothing to say because he's so happy.  That's how I translate it, anyway.  There's something really happy about this song, and listening to it makes me feel good.

3. Send Me an Angel
I love this song more than anyone should ever love a song.  This is magnificent, beautiful, aagh!  I play it over and over again.  The trance purists might not like the song being based so heavily on vocals, but to me the gorgeousness of the song makes up for it.  Surprisingly, despite being from Israel, this is the first hebrew song they've ever done (though they did a hebrew sample in End of the Road).  It's actually a cover of the band Mashina, which kinda disappoints me because I was hoping they'd write something in hebrew themselves.  I hope this means they write it more, because hebrew is one of the world's most beautiful languages.

The lyrics are about asking, presumably God, for an angel, someone to love and support them in a difficult life as manic as a circus. (they lyrics actually say "zoo", but apparently the connotation is the same). "And sometimes everything looks the same, and sometimes, suddenly, there's a happy moment."  This song is a perfect illustration of surviving horrible situations with optimism and hope for the future.  Some criticize the breakdown in the later half of the song as not really matching, but I personally feel it works great.

I just can't get over this song.  Excuse me while I listen to it ten times over.

4. You are so F-d.
So when I first listened to this album, this was the skippable track.  I ended up giving it a listen, though, and it's, well, bad.  Very bad.  Granted, it is kinda funny, in an immature, 15 year old guy way.  I admit I giggled at it.  Trouble is, there's no inherent value in it.  It's just immaturity for immaturity's sake, and once you get over the initial joke, there's nothing left to listen to.  Even without the lyrics, this is too dumb for IM.  It's a really out of place song to put behind Send Me an Angel, too.  It's like they were too afraid of people thinking their songs have meaning, so they had to back it up with this mess.

That, and the music video is really stupid.

5.  The Rat
I like this song a lot.  It's very pulsing and exciting.  It also pulls ideas from both IM's older and newer sounds, forming a perfect blend.  A good, strong piece.  Like all the previous songs, it has a happier sound.  Something nice must have happened to IM before they worked on this release. Either that, or they were just tired from the emo, epic driven sounds of Vicious Delicious and Black Shawarma.

6. Nation of Wusses
Bit more of a serious track.  A bit more.  It takes a while for it to get going, but when it does, it's nice.  Bit too anthem, but it's alright.

7. Wanted To
This song gets some hate from critics, but I actually really like it.  The lyrics feel like something BT would go with.   Actually, the whole thing sounds like a BT song done up Infected style.  Surprisingly relaxing for a high energy song.

8. Serve My Thirst
Bit of a darker track, just like the title suggests.  The opening minutes are particularly fun, something nice and rockstep.  It takes a few minutes for the lyrics to kick in, and that's when some darker elements come in. It's another one of those songs that sounds happier than the lyrics make it out to be. It works better here, because there's a humor in it.

9. I Shine
Not something I find particularly transcendental, but it's nice and fun.  A casual song for a sunshiney day.

10. Drum N Baasa
Pretty good.  I especially like the part around four minutes in, where the pulsing background loop comes in.  I'm not entirely sure this is really drum 'n bass, but my concern is sounding good, not that IM conforms to my genre expectations.  This track, unlike the three or so before, feels more like an experiment. 

11. The Pretender
As much as this really is a nice sounding song, I don't really like the idea of IM (or any band, really) doing lots of covers.  It was one thing with Send Me an Angel, as Sh'lach Li Mal'ach was a fairly obscure song, at least to a non-Israeli.  It was also very distant in style from what IM does normally, so a remix isn't out of place.

The Pretender, on the other hand, is a song that is not only highly recognisable (even by people who don't listen to Foo Fighters), but a song that is more rock -- a style that IM has been into more and more in later albums.  It really does feel like IM is capitalizing on other people's popularity. Granted, that happens a lot in music, but still.  Also, when a song is really good in its original form, that makes different versions very hard to competently pull off, particularly when they're covers and not remixes.

Of course, it's not like this song sucks or anything.  It's actually really good, and I like listening to it. My feelings on covers aside, the only real downfall of this song is that it could be too well structured, erasing the raw passion of the original.  All the same, I'd really rather IM just came up with their own song and made it as good as The Pretender. 

12. The Messenger
Lovely beginning.  It starts off slow for a couple of minutes, but then really pumps up around six minutes in.  I'm definitely having a good time listening to this.  Love the piano work.

13. Swingish
It's alright.  A nice, fun track to listen to, with minimal seriousness.  It's considered a bonus track, which makes sense.  The Messenger is a better album ender, but this track isn't without its quality. It does feel sort of out of place, though.  Kinda wish it was in the middle of the album rather than here.

After listening to all that, I can see where the critics are coming from, especially having listened to all the other albums as I wrote this review.  The songs here are generally less complex, odd, and experimental than stuff on their earlier work.  If you're a psytrance person, the more simplistic way to go isn't going to be as appealing.   This album had a lot of "yeah, I got it" tracks, where you could easily listen to a thirty second sample of any song and have a general idea of what the rest of it is like (tracks 1, 2, and 10 aside).  It didn't reward listening as much as older albums did (though it did do this more than Black Shawarma).

On the other hand. I feel like I need to point out this statement by a guy on youtube called Blan Blazbo: "The songs are structured like actual songs rather than the ultra repetitive stuff like EDM." Clearly Mr. Blazbo isn't really an electronic listener, but there's obviously an appeal to the kind of music this is. It's not bad, it's just different.  We've got to rescue the pop crowd from their pop music ways, don't we?  This is as good a way as any to pull them in.

And given that IM hasn't ever put out two albums that sound the same, it's entirely possible that this is just an album they decided to go a somewhat simpler route on, just this once.  Not to mention that IM's brand of simplicity doesn't come even close to the simplicity of any given track you hear on the radio.  It's not actually "simple," it's just simpler in comparison to their past stuff.

I like Army of Mushrooms well enough.  It's a nice cd when you just want to relax and study.  It doesn't need to be anything else, though it's certainly understandible if fans wanted something to get excited over. 

Now to this period overall.  I like it, but I can see what people mean when they say it's not like the old stuff.  Vicious Delicious was a nu metal pull, Schawarma was from rock/metal trends, and Army of Mushrooms, while the least referential of the three, did pull from dubstep -- though I genuinely do feel that IM improved on dubstep as a genre.  These guys are artists, and the lessons they learned from their older albums give life to the younger.

Actually, now that I think about it, that's the theme of Infected Mushroom: take a thing that exists and make it your own.  IM has, at all points, done what it wanted.  Sure, the band members have grown up over time, but they've always been about the fun and emotion of music, not necessarily what's the most artistic or genre-consistent.  I think that's a major deal about why they've worked for so long. Really and truly, I don't get why people are so hateful on Infected Mushroom just because they changed.  All bands change, and IM was just smarter about it than most.

On the other hand, I did learn to appreciate BP Empire a lot more from doing this review.  Classical Mushroom I knew was grand, and The Gathering...even despite the mushroom boobs, I do like the album art.  I would love if IM retreated more to the weirdo sounds of this era, as well as the nigh on nonsensical cover art.  I like things that don't make sense.

Man, this was an educational experience.  Not only do I feel like I know more about IM, but electronic music in general.  Knowledge gained!  Well, that's all Infected Mushroom's albums. Besides their Friends on Mushrooms albums, but I don't feel like reviewing those.  Compilation albums tend to be a bit fragmented in feel, and not always represent the artist that well.

Up next, I'll talk about Daft Punk's albums!  Not in order, however, because I turned this into a series in the last minute (I'm writing this now after having already written my reviews for Daft Punk), and for some reason I felt the need to talk about Random Access Memories first.  It makes sense, now that I think about it, because everyone seems to want to review RAM by either comparing it to their past albums, loving it only through general band hype, or completely forgetting that the previous albums existed.  By tackling it first, I made lots of statements that required rethinking in light of listening to their older stuff.  Rethink it for yourself, why not?

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