Another three years pass since their second album and a line-up change leaving Doug Harrison (vocals) and Sam Levin (guitars) the only remaining members from the previous albums. Joining them on the third album entitled Congenital Fixation are Randall Stoll (drums), Jim Kwan (piano), Tim Bartch (cello), and Jeff Caron (bass on “The Orchard”, mandola, vibes) & Mike Young (bass).
The band continues to evolve with the help of more instruments this time around. The band‘s influences also expands too with a stronger Tool and Opeth vibe in the music. Doug’s vocals improved a lot more on Congenital Fixation than on the previous releases. This makes the experience of listening to the album much better in my opinion.
From the opening track “Cockroach Eyelids” (3:37) to the closing ‘epic’ track “The Orchard” (6:20), the listener is treated to a more progressive rock sound than the previous releases. One of my favorites on the album is “Rubicon Eyes” (4:41) which has some mellower moments and reminds me a lot of the rawness of Tool circa Undertow. It’s here that I hear the use of what I think is the mandola. Another favorite is “Hourglass Dessert” (6:27) which is the longest track of the album. It’s here that the band’s sound expands the most. Doug sings in a higher register here.
At this point I can honestly say I enjoyed the music and didn’t feel like I was forcing myself to listen. I could recommend Congenital Fixation over the previous albums without any doubt. But the best is yet to come (I could say that from my privilege of listening to all of the albums at the same time rather than over the course of time).
Reviewed by Ron Fuchs on December 17th, 2010