Animal Version is an experimental rock band from Edegem (Belgium) featuring former members of Minus45degrees, Johnny Unstoppable and several other bands from Antwerp. 'Elsewhere' is their debut, recorded at Antwerp Music City by Martin Furia (Bliksem, Dans Dans, Vanderbuyst...). Although you somewhat have to get used to their sound at first, this is an excellent progressive rock album that will hopefully open a lot of doors for this band.
The seven songs on this album are complex pieces of rock music, experimenting with the sound of Tool and Deftones and blending it with the complicated song structures of Dream Theater or Opeth. Somehow they balance on the edge between rock and metal music with very strong riffs and brilliant vocals. Yet, in all their progressive experimentation, Animal Version never forgets to 'rock'. Furthermore, they're not afraid to pour in some electronics here and there and effect to enhance a freakish atmosphere.
What strikes me most in this music, is the continuous shifts in tempo, intensity and atmosphere. It seems like no ten seconds on songs like 'Octupus' are the same. This opener might put the listener on a wrong track at first, opening quite jazzy and slow. However, after a few minutes this song blasts and rocks, and has me it its grip. 'Sonic Silhouette' opens with a similar progressive jazz intro and then suddenly raises the tempo to headbang-calibre. These complex structures make this an extremely varied album.
The bass guitar seems to a very important instrument in the music of Animal Version. In stead of mixing it to the background, it got a prominent place. The strong supporting role of the bass in 'Silverback Disco' and 'Black Bone Serenity' somehow reminds me of dub and reggae, although this music has nothing to do with those genres. The similarity lies in the convincing and lively drive of the bass, which forms a strong foundation for the layers of guitars.
'A Zest-like Zero' could in some way be seen as the ballad of this album. It's a lot slower and less intense than the other songs, which by the way doesn't make it one-sided, at all. This is simply a very strong progressive rock anthem. At least for a while, until the tempo goes up and we're suddenly listening to an amazing heavy metal meets post-rock thing. This wide array of influences is present throughout the enitre album, coming up with a lot of pleasant surprises.
'Dialogue Infinity' is an awesome closer for this whimsical but excellent album. This song often comes very close to being a metal version of breakcore by incorporating electronics and hyperactive drums. Yet here too is plenty of place for elaborate slower passages and some in-your-face rock 'n' roll. It ends the album with a hint toward the furthur evolition of Animal Version and hopefully a bright future.
I'm going to finish this review by advising you to check this thing out. These are seven extremely varied songs, capable of remaining interesting for an hour. That is not always the case with this kind of progressive and experimental music but Animal Version clearly nailed it. This is complex rock music at a very high level, showing very experienced and well-attuned musicians.