Album Review: The Aberration- Don’t Poke the Bear

ab3A few months back, my band toured through Westfield, MA, courtesy of Travis O’Connell, sole guitarist of The Aberration (VT). These guys are supremely loved in that area and it’s no secret as to why. The Aberration are a 2- piece progressive instruMETAL powerhouse, here to entertain you through and through, while also keeping you guessing until the last note is played.

Guitarist, Travis O’Connell and drummer, Jim Cole are the masterminds behind their latest album, Don’t Poke the Bear, to be released on July 21 in Florence MA at 13th Floor. Only 4 tracks deep, this stunning EP is just another example of how exciting a 2- piece project like this can be. However, we can’t give these two guys ALL the credit, as much as we’d like to. There were some guest spots on this record and here they are:

                           Jay Madore- Bass on the whole album
                         Alexandra Serrano-Vocals on “Into The Fray”
                         Kyle Leary- Guitar lead on “Into The Fray”
                         Chris Daniele- Guitar fills on “Into The Fray”
The album kicks off with “The Lion”. My first thoughts right off the bat were, “Holy crap, this guy loves Mr. Bungle (referring to Travis).” For those not in the know, Mr. Bungle is known for weird dissonant/or “flipped” guitar chords in the lower to mid register. This song is littered with those. Complete with intricate drumming, awesome guitar and drum accents/dynamics and catchy melodies you wouldn’t expect to find in such odd time signatures, “The Lion” is a great first listen for those new to this band.
For fans of more spacey and ambient progressive music, “Into the Fray” is your song. The clean guitar layering and delay effects throughout the introduction and well into the body of the song, give the tune an incredible conveyance of nature in its primal state. At least, that’s what I took from it. Alexandra Serrano’s vocals are mind blowing. Instead of lyrics, we’re bombarded with a broad range of Old World tones, almost reminiscent of Celtic tribes. Eventually, the distortion kicks in and it’s Goodbye, sanity. The epic chord progressions and skillful drumming, complimented by great ride cymbal bell accents, give the heavier parts of this tune a borderline black metal feel. It’s certainly an emotional rollercoaster to say the least. For the love of metal, DO NOT sleep on this band.
The 3rd track, “Doing the Dirty” goes right back to business. The opening riff is mean and driving, spearing you in the gut with pinch harmonics and thrashy hammer-ons all over the place. The guitar tone on this track is particularly menacing and should be embraced with caution. This is exactly what your favorite old school thrash bands (Exodus, Testament, Overkill) would sound like if they took on Dream Theater’s courage in regards to off- time exploration. While at the same time, the catchy melodies return on this track, despite the aggressive overdrive present throughout. This track really is the whole Aberration package.
The boys close things out with the title track. “Don’t Poke the Bear” (the song), kicks off with a maniacal riff, straight out of the insane asylum. I imagined seeing Travis in a straitjacket, struggling to escape during the majority of this tune. Overall, this song is the least melodic of the bunch, but it’s definitely the most interesting to listen to. It goes back to my earlier comment about The Aberration keeping you guessing until the last note is played. In a nutshell, I couldn’t see them wrapping up this release any other way. “Don’t Poke the Bear”‘s riffs are completely off the wall, dissonant, over-the-top with odd timing, toppling over drums that compliment each riff perfectly, but display some flash at all the appropriate times too. Jim Cole also brings out more of his “dinner bell” in ways I could never have imagined. These dudes are truly a marvel.
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Then, finally, to top things off, there’s a fun little surprise a bit after the EP concludes (which I won’t be spoiling). So, when you get to track 4, don’t you dare stop listening after that last note. There’s just a little more to the story to keep you entertained.
Here on The Metal, I’m no advocate for rating albums using the number system. All I’m going to say is that these 4 songs impressed the shit out of me and you should listen to them if you’re a fan of any of the aforementioned bands or styles.
Thanks for checking this out, guys. As always, there’s lots more to come!
Don’t Poke the Bear was recorded, mixed and mastered by Chris Daniele at Disappearing Mountain, Eathampton, MA in 2017, and was produced by Chris Daniele and The Aberration.
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