Nottingham quartet Pitchshifter were one of Britain’s more innovative bands of the ’90s, blending techno, drum ‘n’ bass, electronic gadgetry and seriously heavy metal into a package that sat somewhere between Atari Teenage Riot, Fear Factory and Ministry.
Now two of their number – guitarist Mark Clayden and drummer Jason Bowld – have gotten together for a new project. Notice that it’s a “project” not a “band” because, in keeping with the spirit of Pitchshifter, This Is Menace has an imaginative concept, namely that each track features a different, (semi-)famous vocalist.
If the idea is novel, surprisingly the music is not, with the result that No End In Sight is as mixed a proverbial bag as you might expect. Deadman, Cover Girl Monument and Predisposed are a non-triumphant triumvirate to kicks things off with. Despite strong vocal performances from Colin Doran of Hundred Reasons, Matt Davies of Funeral For A Friend and Justin Hill of SikTh, the side is let down somewhat by the run-of-the-mill, mid-’90s metal chugging and guitar riffing.
In contrast, the subsequent trio of tracks dare to take risks and sound all the better for it. Incite lives up to its name with Amen‘s Casey Chaos going typically ape over a thrash metal-meets-hardcore punk riot; The Nameless, featuring Hiding Place’s Paul McCallion, wins by taking its foot off the distortion pedal during its rhythm-heavy verses; while the deathly metallic Onward Christian Soldiers is one to scare the kids with as Carcass‘s Jeff Walker lays into the US with his creepy growl: “We’ve come for your children… And your f**king oil!”
Unfortunately it’s back to the inconsistency for the final four songs. Andy Cairns’ (Therapy) spoken word vocal and the guitar effects in F8 were never “destined” to work, whereas the Eastern feel and Tool / Butterfly Effect influences in Totality (featuring former Earthtone 9 man Karl Middleton) could hardly fail. Dark Matter (with SikTh’s other vocalist, Mikee Goodman) is chaotic but not very cohesive, while Displacement – where Clayden and Bowld handle it all themselves – is decent enough in a Chaos AD-era Sepultura kinda way.
No End In Sight is a perfect example of what Yogi Berra meant when he said, “In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice, there is.” In other words, whilst this project is a sound concept in theory, in practice, This Is Menace only occasionally threatens.