Botch - 2002 Unifying Themes Redux
1. God vs. Science
2. Third Part in a Tragedy
3. Inch by Inch
8. Stupid Me
9. In Spite of This
10. End of Discussion
12. Liquored Up and Laid
13. Leavers Take on Genesis
14. The Lobster Song
15. Frequenting Mass Transit
There are a lot of bands that paved the way for new sounds way before their time but are either criminally overlooked today, or on the opposite end of the “giving respect where respect is due” spectrum, way too hyped. Botch certainly isn’t over-hyped -- their contribution to modern metal is nothing short of crucial. However, they don’t get a lot of love outside of their relatively small group of fans -- which is anyone with a proper enjoyment of hardcore or metal. Anyone can sing along with "Rappers’ Delight" but find me someone at a Jay-Z show that can name a Botch song.
Unifying Themes Redux is the first in a number of Botch reissues that will be seeing the light of day through Hydra Head. It’s a fantastic record, no doubt, but not necessarily the first one I’d jump on laying my money down for. Offering material from early 7-inches, compilations, rarities, and a full live set that were originally released together back in 2002, Unifying Themes Redux sadly offers nothing new to listeners. 061502 on the other hand presents the band’s final performance on CD and DVD while the American Nervoso reissue will come with material previously unavailable. There are even some of the original releases kicking around the offices of Excursion Records, who released the original. So as a reissue, Unifying Themes Redux might not be the best purchase.
But here’s the thing, 90 percent of the hardcore and metal fans I know, don’t own a Botch album. It’s not as though this is some marketing ploy on the hands of Hydra Head. There should be demand for this music, and with any luck there’ll be enough talk around multiple reissues to generate such demand.
For a collection, Unifying Themes comes across as impressively cohesive. While it’s not the band’s best work (see We Are the Romans if you’re interested in that), it is interesting in that it really shows where the band was headed. Most of the songs on Unifying Themes show the band beginning to create what would come to be the foundation for bands like Converge and Dillinger Escape Plan, while at the same time not hinting too much at some of the less impressive aspects of their music that would show up on later albums, such as a more mainstream rock-metal sound as heard on An Anthology of Dead Ends. The tracks here are ferocious, the guitars are technical to the point of accusations of impossibility, and the tempo changes are unpredictable and brutal. On a few occasions, Unifying Themes falls flat, if only because you know what’s going to happen with the band later on. But by and large, it is a fantastic introduction and a great ingredient for a recipe of “why won’t they tour again?”
Again, this isn’t Botch’s best work, nor should it be a priority amongst their re-releases. But taken for what it is, it’s great, and it’s still better than most of the bands cashing huge paycheques off Botch’s sound.
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