Immortal / Epic Records, 1997


REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


When I heard that Incubus was slated to be the opening act for Black Sabbath, I have to admit that I finally became curious in this band I had never heard before. What kind of music style were they, and how would they fit with the "gloom-and-doom" style that their tourmates had embodied?

After one listen to their 1997 debut S.C.I.E.N.C.E., the answers weren't terribly clear, but one thing was - this was a decent album that might be unfairly called a Korn clone (something it is anything but). Brandon Boyd and crew take the listener on a very interesting (and sometimes too self-indulgent) trip.

The band -- vocalist/percussionist Boyd, guitarist Mike Einziger, bassist Alex Katunich, drummer Jose Pasillas and DJ Kilmore -- do have a funk/metal style similar to that of Korn, but unlike their labelmates, Incubus have a style and a groove all their own. There seems to be more of a tongue-in-cheek sense of humor laced into their music ("I dreamt I went potty, then woke up drenched in me" -- from "Calgone"). Plus, Incubus seem to have a healthy respect for all the forms of music whose influence they draw upon - no knock against Korn intended.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

It takes a few minutes for the audio whiplash to set in and allow you to really appreciate what is blaring through your speakers. Tracks like "Idiot Box," "Glass," "Summer Romance (Anti-Gravity Love Song)" and "A Certain Shade Of Green" are both intense experiences as well as fun tracks to listen to. And, if anything is going to win over the crowds who go to the shows to see Black Sabbath, it's going to be the notion that Incubus is really having fun with the music they're creating.

S.C.I.E.N.C.E. is also interesting in that the album never seems to lag - that is, until you get to the "hidden" track just a few seconds after "Calgone" - over ten minutes of anything and everything you could imagine in a song, from recitation of what sounds like an autopsy to the sound of an arcade machine (video or pinball, I couldn't tell -- anyone wanna enlighten me?) to off-the-cuff remarks from people. While there are moments that this is interesting, after a while, you almost wish for the end to come -- plus, I've never seen the sense behind these "bonus" tracks.

But for the most part, Incubus succeeds on all levels with S.C.I.E.N.C.E. - and it makes me wonder why we haven't heard more from this band in the nearly two years since this album was first released. It's got the potential, but has anyone given it a fair chance, or have people written it off due to the weird cover? (Okay, I have to ask: Who is that on the cover? Looks like Mark Spitz to me, but I'm no expert.)

S.C.I.E.N.C.E. is a definite candidate for an album that unfairly slipped through the cracks. Hopefully their stint on the Black Sabbath tour will spark some interest in them - and build them a seriously big fan base.

Rating: B+

User Rating: A-



© 1999 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Immortal / Epic Records, and is used for informational purposes only.