Release date: March 20, 2011
Being a huge fan of Fair To Midland I was excited to discover Hungary’s Subscribe. The Budapest based sextet was formed back in 1999 by vocalist Mate Tilk, bassist Miklos Anga-Kis, drummer, Attila Rekasi and guitarists Tamas Reich and Attila Horvath. Vocalist Balint Csongor joined a year later, and the group is helped out on piano and keyboards by the band’s permanent honorary guest member, Zoltan Csery. Both Csonger and Tilk use a mix of clean and harsh vocals, to truly expand the groups sound.
Subscribe has become massive in its home country of Hungary, but the rest of the world awaits. Their sonic bag of tricks covers so much area it’s difficult to describe. While the band’s foundation is set in modern progressive metal, a musical kitchen sink is thrown in for good measure, including Hungarian folk, r&b, jazz, hardcore, even some funk and reggae. The band uses elements of metalcore, death metal, and classic rock and metal. You can sometimes find a multitude of these elements all crammed together in one song. While some bands would implode with that kind of aural mélange, Subscribe feeds off of it.
The band released its third full-length studio effort, Bookmarks, last March. I’ve been vibing on this release for over a month now. This is progressive metal for those with attention deficit disorder. There is certainly no time to settle in because the next breakdown is just around the corner. You will hear a little of everything on Bookmarks, and from chaos comes clarity. While it’s nearly a year too late to write a full on review, this band is simply too good to ignore, and the world must be introduced.
Subscribe manages to put as much into one song as many bands do in an entire album. Yet they do it without losing continuity. It’s a hard dynamic to put into words, but an example can be heard in the Bookmark‘s track, “Anxiety Found Shape In Contradictions – Act II. Delusion”. This is the album’s first full song after the intro track, “Griping Portentious”, and truly exemplifies who the band is. Without becoming overly effusive, this track is a work of maniacal brilliance.
The second half, “Anxiety Found Shape In Contradictions – Act III. The Final Relief ” races out with a hooky riff and caustic throat-growling intro. Then a mere 40 seconds in, the song makes a sharp left onto a melodic cul-de-sac of soaring harmony vocals and Primus-like funk. Then there are the 70’s prog touches that glue it all together.
Both vocalists shine on the mid-tempo “Bitter Boundary”. Lilting keyboards and crunchy guitars are embraced by this vocal immersion, and a spectacular if not understated rhythmic backing.
“Books For The Dyslexic” is one of my personal favorites, with its boogie vibe, big keys, and grooving bass line.
Getting right in your face is “Orchitis”, one of the album’s heaviest and grittiest pieces, which also maps in some near rap moments.
The driving progressions of “Ringside Seat” get the blood pumping until the r&b slow down which sounds like an announcer getting his freak on. Then it’s back to full scale funkiness.
“Miles Away” is the album’s shortest track, and it takes the listener into ballad territory with an ethereal piano interlude overlaid by soft vocals. This is followed up by Bookmark‘s longest journey, “Between Heaven And Her”. A surging and epic soundscape that dances across your cerebrum, raising the hair on your arms with its melodious allure.
Finally we reach the album’s climactic moment. “Gay Rodeo”, is similar to “Anxiety Found Shape In Contradictions – Act II. Delusion” in the scope of its sonic schizophrenia. This is just disgustingly beautiful in a decadently mad way. This is Subscribe taking their signature to the nth degree. The lounge lizard elements would make Frank Zappa would be proud. While I won’t quibble with anyone who wants to argue, I’d say this is the most eclectic and defining track on the album.
What makes Subscribe‘s Bookmarks so fascinating is that with every repeated listen, the album continues to grow in your head like a perverse seed planted and waiting to bloom into a glorious auditory aneurysm.
Had we discovered this gem even a month earlier it would easily have made Metalholic’s 50 Best Metal Albums of 2011.
Listeners with tastes as diverse as Between The Buried and Me, Faith No More, Fair To Midland, Every Time I Die, Leprous, Dredg, and more should love this band.