I’ve been holding off on this review for a while because it’s taken me some time to really ‘get’ this album. Now it took me awhile to ‘get’ the first Mission: Impossible movie, and that was fucking horrible, but the self-titled debut from K-W metal band What’s He Building In There?, is not.

Saying anything along the lines of “upon a first listen…” would be completely unfair to this album as a whole. While the music is certainly initially engaging, the record is comprised of far too many components to be digested in only a few sittings. That being said, let me tell you what I’ve come up with to date.

First, the songwriting here is brilliant. There is a lack of convention that really enhances the album’s staying power. The musicianship on the release is also quite stunning. The melodies here are extremely intricate, and yet never lose sight of the importance of dynamics. A variety of rhythmic structures are also ambitiously and successfully explored thanks in large part to a solid rhythm section.

Despite all of its ambition, the record doesn’t leave any metal lover behind, as it offers its fair share of breakdowns, thrash-drumming, and harmonized guitar – complete with squeals – that should keep people around long enough to discover the more encrypted gems the album contains.

“(Holy Shit!) The Droid is Missing” is two minutes of orchestrated frenzy, while “I, Xolot!” is a progressive musical journey that ends with some ferocious guest growls from Jaime Schoch of Of the First Born Son. The album’s highlight could be “Citizen of the City”, as it embodies the bands sound quite nicely by incorporating most of the album’s prominent ingredients.

Chris Schroeder’s vocals are also a key aspect of this album. This guy uses his voice to its full potential, capturing every type of scream and growl a shirtless hooligan with camo-shorts could ask for, and foiling them with haunting, yet fragile sung melodies in the vein of the oft-referenced Mike Patton. His lyrics are also quite impressive, based on an underlying sci-fi concept that tells a rather extensive story set in a fictional universe that only add to the depth of the record.

This is a metal album that (thankfully) isn’t afraid to scout new territory, yet it never loses sight of the genre from which it was spawned, drawing obvious influence from, but not exclusive to, groups like HORSE the Band, Between the Buried and Me, and even Tool to create something fresh and really exciting for any fan of metal willing to explore the genre further.  [ END ]

Track Listing:

01. Black Scythe Affair
02. Citizen of the World
03. Walk on the Beach
04. Armadillo
05. Armageddon
06. (Holy Shit) The Droid is Missing
07. I, Xololt
08. Monkey Knife Fight
09. Windmills
10. Avian Taxi

Run Time: 54:48