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March 26, 2023

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Aquatica (Sutrobath)

By: Stan Hall

Take a LOT of David Bowie -- especially his "Man Who Sold the World" and Berlin eras -- mix it with a bit of prog-rock grandeur and some high-fidelity psychedelic effects, and you've got an idea of what Northwest duo Sutrobath sounds like.

Their second album is a Big Rock statement, and while sometimes Sutrobath's songs can't hold up under the ambitious arrangements, give them credit for imaginative, if sometimes a bit dated, production techniques that are professional without being too slick.

Skip the overlong, overheated title track and check out "Bitter," which sports a spare, ringing guitar line and a fat fuzz-bass, nicely building up to a memorable chorus. "Never Been Better" is, uh, even better, as a lilting acoustic intro segues into a jaunty, almost Kinks-like chorus. The CD's quieter tracks are typically the best, usually free of tune-smothering effects and revealing some impressive textural bits. The strings-laden "You're In Love" dangerously walks the line between pretty and cloying, fortunately siding on the correct side of the ledger. The rockers are more problematic, sometimes sounding like late '80s-early '90s lite-metal and saddled with competent but wanky guitar solos. If you're a fan of a band like Queensr?che, you'll likely enjoy these bits.

Unsolicited advice for Sutrobath: Get a new effects bank; some of these '80s-type guitar and drum sounds are seriously stale. Otherwise, this is a promising slab of psych-rock.


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