Almost one and a half year ago, I was surfing the internet and quenching my thirst for Prog Metal when I accidently stumbled upon something very unique, something that I hadn’t seen before anywhere and it was on YouTube. There were these guys who were doing Dream Theater covers in a way never done before: Split Screen. Now many of you might not be getting what I am trying to refer because this talented bunch of lads had split screens showing every individual busy with their instrument and knocking the hell out of Dream Theater. What I got out of this (and I might be wrong) was that every musician was doing his parts separately and then the final mix was fused into one solid Dream Theater cover performance. Trust me, I am not just saying this because I have never seen anyone performing Dream Theater in a way that is so exact to what Petrucci and the lads do, that you just won’t believe what you hear. And that my friends, is how I found out about the band called “Bad Salad”.
Before I proceed on to review their album called “Uncivilized” I would like to tell you guys a little about the band. “Bad Salad” is a Progressive Metal Band from Brazil which was formed by two brothers Thaigo Campos (Lead Guitar and Backing Vocals) and Felipe Campos (Bass Guitar) back in 2007. Initially the guys had no idea what genre to follow and so their main aim was to sit down in a room and jam leading to some original work and writings, hence creating a blend of what would later be called as “Bad Salad”. Other members include the current Vocalist Dennis Oliviera and CacoGoncalves on the drums. Before embarking on the journey of creating an album they were joined by keyboardist Cesar Zolhof thus completing the instrumental lineup but still was initially missing a vocalist for which from April 20 to June 20, 2010, an online tryout was conducted for the Vocalist and that is how the band found out Dennis.
Coming on to the album now, I would like to write everything what I felt as a new listener to this band. “Uncivilized” instantly hooksfascination by the album art. The cover work is distinctive and beautiful in its own way and one would instantly ask the question about the connection within, of the artwork, with the band. But as a new listener you would instantly get attracted to the artwork because you just have to listen to know what lies inside. A very dark and distant Church bell sound announces the beginning of the album and the first track “Crowded Sky” starts off. Immediately you would feel the need to stay connected and feel as if this is something you have heard before but don’t know what it is. The difference? You don’t want to stop because the fusion of a great opening guitar riff with some great drum work is striking to the auditory canals. As soon as the track moves you would notice the band is really talented and the musicians are just not some rookies who decided to create an album. The overall feel you would be getting is somewhat similar to the regular progressive metal you would listen, but not the usual because every band has its identity and you can clearly demarcate a band by just listening to initial few mins and honestly I can say this with full authority that no matter how much this band resembles some famous bands, it has its own presence and its own style. The vocalist in Dennis has that aggressive vocal technique that is both assertive and affirming. He can get aggressive at times in his pitch notes and can be mellow in other tracks such as “Mourning” and “Damned”. A progressive metal vocalist is judged by his vocal technique, at different situations, and Dennis has the vocal range deserving to be in any progressive metal band, that sweet sounding extended waves onto waves of vocal magic ending you craving for more. The overall compositions in the album are just a box full of surprises, be it guitar work or be it the sudden change in how the song is, and instead of telling you about each and every song, I am rather trying not to spoil the surprise that lies in the album. Thiago Campos is just a gem of a guitar player and his style of playing follows where he is giving you just some brilliant music by combining alternate picking and shredding with just calm melodies, legatos and riffs. It is one thing to be a great guitar player but to be a great guitar player and be melodious is what catches the attention of contemporary listeners. He knows where shredding is required and where the slow soloing is required. His brother Felipe just completes him in a way complimenting each other and you can clearly feel this in every track with a mixture of slapping and poppings along with harmonics, both of them working in tandem and just making dew drops with the help of instruments. Cesar Zolhof has done a very good keyboard job being a prog metal keyboardist and follows each and every track very professionally offering you different sounds to different layers and unorthodox soloing, with the drummer on this album just a beast. Progressive metal is nothing without a solid drummer and ladies and gentlemen, CacoGoncalves will give you total utter jaw dropping moments of sheer class, combination of conventional metal playing with some talented double bass drum spurts just incorporated in most of the songs and without the use of his fills and cymbals I would think the songs would feel empty. The type of music which you really want to involuntarily move your head to, is what this album’s about.
To summarize for you: The overall feel of this album follows a wave pattern where it can be aggressive and be mellow at the same time. Using your regular instruments there is strong emphasis on technicality and theoretical complexity. You wouldn’t know when and what you are expecting and there is absolutely no monotony in the compositions, or the writings. Everything is just totally poles apart and sweet sounding if you are a true progressive metal fan. There are some foundations of being dark in one or two songs, the darkness that really is necessary for some bands. The Vocals, the guitar work, the keyboards and the drums all are just well fused with each other. The band is in true fact a “Band” and not just a one man show and for this creation everyone has played his part in the way it should’ve been played. The band’s influences are clearly visible in each and every song and they have paid attention to not be exactly like their influences but be unique in their own way. You would absolutely love this album for what it is and this will not be requiring multiple listens for it to grow on you because by the time you are ready for a second listen, it would already have grown on you sturdily. And at the end of it all you’ll be saying to yourself “This was special”. Yes they do sound a lot like Dream Theater but they have their own moments, and the main reason for this similarity is that everyone is using equipment somewhat similar to Dream Theater which I noticed from looking at VRA performances of the band. Forget this, and you are looking at a Progressive Metal album that would be one of your most listened album, along with your regular listening.