The Abyss Stares Back

Listening through The Abyss Stares Back is like reading a choose-your-own-adventure book. Each track keeps you guessing about the nature of the next, shifting unexpectedly from the clang of scrap metal on sparse industrial tracks to folk-punk tunes reeking of sweat and gasoline. Some hint of a general theme or storyline ties the tracks together, but aside from that, the genre selection seems entirely up to chance.

Similar to the various endings of those multiple-choice stories, though, only a few tracks here are satisfying, while the rest of the album bogs down in lack of direction, coherence and production quality. The surprisingly catchy, Zappa-esque "Confusion Is a Knife That Can Stab You and Your Friends in Addition to the Monsters It Is Applied To" is the only standout track, winning extra points for its fun title.

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Brian Thomas, the local one-man-band that is Kick Thine Ass Joseph and the Bleeding Thumb Brigade (KTAJATBTB), wrote and recorded the entire album in one month as part of a self-imposed, 28-day recording challenge. The album sounds like a soundtrack for the early-90s era video game its concept is inspired by, shoddy sound quality included. It's intriguing and a little amusing, but the novelty doesn't take long to wear off.

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