Radiation 4 - Wonderland
Abacus Recordings
Psychotic Hardcore Metal
9 songs (39:32)
Release year: 2003
Abacus Recordings
Reviewed by Mike

You've all heard the cliché, "don't judge a book by its cover." Well, don't judge this band by the silly, pink artwork you see above. Radiation 4 is a weird (but not in a bad way), relatively new band with Abacus Recordings (a division of Century Media). While the promo sheet draws comparisons to bands such as Mr. Bungle, The Dillinger Escape Plan, and Botch, it's more than fair to say that Radiation 4 is a unique with all its insane, aggressive, and very unpredictable song structures. For those of you who are looking for something that is very creative, adventurous, and brutal at the same time, Radiation 4 may just be able to satisfy your fetish.

Radiation 4 throws many influences into the mixer to come up with their truly unique sound. Labeled as a hardcore act, influences are present that would lead one to that conclusion. However, there are so many other components of the music that render any genre label at all pointless. Spontaneity is the theme throughout Wonderland. Admittedly, this may add up to sensory overload for many listeners. Those of you who don't care for sharp turns in your music and the sudden change in the dynamics of the song every few seconds are not the target audience of this release. Just when the band lays down a furious death metal beat, the band swoops a restrained, almost progressive sounding break out of their pocket leaving the listener in disillusion. But, just as the progressive break provides the listener with a ever so brief moment to "relax," an aggressive, almost psychotic burst of guitars and drumming explodes your ears. Let's not forget vocalist Chris Negrete. Naturally, insane screams are the predominant form of delivery for Negrete. In fact, by the end of the album, you might just question the man's sanity after hearing his relentless screams and fits of fury. Just as the music varies in the most extreme way possible, Negrete keeps things just as interesting with his voice. Along with the maddening shrieks and hollering, Negrete throws in some clean vocals and chants to make things even less predictable and more chaotic. The guitars and the drums are all over the place, with the bass providing a strong presence throughout. Having said all of this, Wonderland does not sound like simple, random noise. On the other hand, the chaotic and psychotic land of Wonderland seems to have been planned and well calculated by the band. The intention can only be to leave the listener scratching his head in confusion and disbelief, realizing that he had never heard anything like this before.

Radiation 4 certainly gets high marks for creativity and talent. Negrete is quoted on the promo sheet as stating that he "could never understand how bands just play the same thing time after time. …Our goal is to get everyone excited about something new." It's safe to say that Radiation 4 have accomplished the goal of a unique sound with Wonderland. Adventurous listeners who don't mind a highly aggressive, and just as highly bizarre album will eat this one up. I will say that the influx of multiple influences and abrupt changes in the dynamics of each of the songs will prove too much for many metalheads out there. I can only expect that future releases will see the band expand on fewer musical influences rather than pack seemingly hundreds of them into one album. Well, the again, I could be wrong. Radiation 4 is one band that is not predictable by any means.

Killing Songs :
When Animals Attack, The Prize
Mike quoted 74 / 100
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