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Album Review

Return to Earth's second outing, 2010's Automata, features all of the bipolar tendencies common to a transient side project whose multi-tasking members can experiment freely with an infinite range of wildly divergent styles, safe in the knowledge that their 401(k) plans depend on another musical day job. Aren't you jealous? You should be, because Automata is the sound of ingenuity run amok, with the resulting chaos and inconsistencies of its musical smorgasbord only contributing to its entertainment value — no strings attached. That freedom from accountability is a crucial factor behind the creative carte blanche that sees Return to Earth traveling from the Dada-esque start-stops and loud-silent contrasts of the title track (part grindcore, part Krautrock), to the furious industrial metal of "You Will be Replaced" (mixing Ministry's staccato riffing onslaught with Fear Factory's computer-distressed vocal style), to the atmospheric instrumental triptych "1.0," "2.0," and "3.0," to the pure metallic bludgeoning of "The Altercation of Man," to the undisguised melodic rock of "The Replicas." Amid all this, the closest Automata comes to locking into any particular formula is via the focused, infectious electro-rock exhibited by "Night of the Exploding Razors," "The Dots Do Not Connect," and "God at the End of the World" — all of them singles worthy of Trent Reznor's standards. But still, multi-tasking creativity is undoubtedly where Return to Earth's strengths really shine, so if the group's side project status leaves you reticent to commit, just relax and approach Automata like a heck of a one-night stand — then worry about the next day's "walk of shame" later.

Customer Reviews

"I told you what to expect..."

If vocalist Scalzo, while screaming these words, was referring to the line, "It came in and knocked me down -- A New Sound -- something for everyone," from the group's debut album Captains Of Industry, I wouldn't be surprised.

When I first heard Return To Earth's debut release, I was taken off-guard. The combination of Pennie's huge drum sounds, Aveni's gritty guitar riffs, and Scalzo's harmony-intense vocals was stirring and addictive. Even as I listened to samples of the new material that gradually emerged, and saw the progression from hard rock to metal, it didn't prepare me for what was about to be unleashed.

Automata hits incredibly hard, with guitars that have gone from gritty riffs to entire slabs of sound, and percussion that might as well be Pennie drumming on my inner ear. The vocal stylings have taken the melody of Captains... and raised it to a whole new level, infusing it with screams that I never knew Scalzo had in him! This combination produces songs that are immense in sound -- anthemic at times -- but which manage to span a vast variety of styles. Alternating between the all-out metal of "You Will Be Replaced", to the melodic hard rock of "The Replicas", to the choral harmonies of "So Close", this album will keep the listener on their toes. I, for one, am enthralled.

Scalzo wasn't lying. It knocked me down, and there's definitely something here for everyone.


Genre: Rock

Years Active:

Return to Earth is a New Jersey/Brooklyn-based trio comprised of vocalist Ron Scalzo (ex- Q*Ball), guitarist, bassist and programmer Brett Aveni, and drummer, programmer, and synth player Chris Pennie formerly of renowned math metal technicians the Dillinger Escape Plan. When they finally found some time away from their other musical pursuits in 2006, Aveni and Pennie began collaborating on the music that, with Scalzo's subsequent recruitment, populated Return to Earth's 2007 debut album, Captains...
Full Bio
Automata, Return to Earth
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