Mike Patton + Slipknot =
I sometimes get flak for not liking local or Australian bands. I'm told sometimes I should support the local or Australian scene more and give all these bands support. But there's a problem with that. You see, I find it much easier to support and say I like bands that are actually good, shock horror, but I think many of us also suffer from this awful affliction. I don't just support a band because it's local or Australian, I think that's an incredibly scene and terrible thing to do, especially if it pollutes your local metal scene with tripe that shouldn't really exist. House of Thumbs, while not necessarily reaching the level of absolutely awful, aren't one of the bands I'd give a House of Thumbs up to.
Sounding like the child of a threeway (if that's possible) between Mike Patton, Slipknot and Meshuggah, 'Crossing the Rubicon' by House of Thumbs is just something annoying to listen to. It's the kind of ordered chaos that's infesting music today that some bands seem to think makes them edgy, when really it's just annoying and grating, and prevents a song from really capturing you as it's keen to just hammer you with stop start riffing for 5 minutes straight, it's frustrating. It also makes it really hard to care what song you're listening to because they're all essentially the same. The Bolt Thrower-esque intro in 'Sunday Rat Parade' is damn fine however; it's just a shame that that's the best part of the song.
The band however are very tight and you can appreciate the musicianship to some extent, if the music weren't so unlistenable at times. The vocals are very irritating at times, content to just shift through styles that really don't appeal or work in any way with the music. I could honestly understand if the music wasn't supposed to be particularly easy to listen to, but it just seems like they thought they would punish anyone attempting to listen to the music. The whole pseudo-chaotic thing that some bands are pulling is very frustrating, and just seems like a patch-up to make the band appear somewhat better than they actually are. Just because you're doing something 'different' doesn't mean it's good, different isn't always a good thing, despite what post-modernity tells us. I'm sure if there where a concentrated effort to actually make the 'chaos' listenable and enjoyable (see: Converge), then it'd be good. However in their present state, House of Thumbs seem like their own immovable wall to enjoying their music.
Another little niggling thing is that this band lists themselves as 'progressive' on their myspace. It's not progressive if your songs go nowhere and do nothing new. I think bands should really look up what prog means, and listen to proper prog bands before slapping the progressive label on themselves. It's very misleading to prog fans who are actually keen to listen to real prog.
If you're willing to give it a crack, check out House of Thumbs myspace for some tracks, otherwise you're probably better off listening to 5 Star Prison Cell or the plethora of other similar bands.