Subarachnoid Space Eight Bells

Subarachnoid Space Eight Bells
Over their nearly 15 years as a band, Subarachnoid Space have been quietly making experimental music for metal heads. After a trio of late '90s albums on Relapse/Release, this Portland, OR-based outfit have transformed their sound from tamely ambient to frantically lysergic. Founder Mason Jones stepped away from the fold after 2003's excellent Also Rising, and now long-time guitarist Melynda Jackson takes the helm, steering the band to lofty heights of purely instrumental acid-drenched rock with Eight Bells. Opener "Lilith" is a prime example: soaring guitar lines crescendo with cymbal crashes and unchained melodies, invoking Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd. With a titular nod to Frank Herbert's Dune, the 13-minute "Hunter Seeker" skulks through various vibratory states before settling into a dark groove from Tool's Undertow. That Adam Jones guitar vibe re-emerges later in "Bird Signs," a muscular number with Dan Barone's beefy bass up front in the mix where it can do maximum damage. After the initial tumult dies down, "Haruspex" (Latin for "soothsayer") incises the belly of a sonically fattened lamb, examining the entrails with multiple pedal effects and loops, interpreting the omens of the gods via Jackson's eerie vocal lamentations. With metallic chords and structures, she's managed to alter Subarachnoid Space's trajectory from cerebral to celestial on the truly heavy Eight Bells. (Crucial Blast)