FREE SALAMANDER EXHIBIT

Avant-garde Metal • United States
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Originally called the Rock Springs Six, Free Salamander Exhibit makes no bones about being influenced by the early work of Sleepytime Gorilla Museum. “Yeah, we all have that first record,” they mutter nonchalantly. Their new name is taken from the Sleepytime Gorilla Press’s 1916 leaflet distributed by Pentecostal snake-handler George Went Hensley of Tennessee, wherein the gospel dictum “They shall take up serpents and salamanders” was treated to more or less literal interpretation. “Yeah, we all handle them, salamanders that is,” they confess. Yes, they have renounced their snake handling ways in favor of the modern hair-shirt, i.e. the burlap gown. Certainly their outfits are uncomfortable and make playing difficult, especially for the non-rock instruments they sometimes employ, but what price beauty?

It seems the past is something this band of burlap brothers would rather put to rest. Free Salamander Exhibit gained some notoriety in the early 2000s by impersonating the
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FREE SALAMANDER EXHIBIT Undestroyed album cover 4.00 | 1 ratings
Undestroyed
Avant-garde Metal 2016

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FREE SALAMANDER EXHIBIT Undestroyed

Album · 2016 · Avant-garde Metal
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The first splinter group to form after the grand closing of the Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, FREE SALAMANDER EXIT formed in 2012 the year after the last SGM album and pretty much served as the next step following the Nils Frykdahl and Dan Rathbun list of challenging musical bands that began in the 80s with Acid Rain, came to fruition in the 90s with Idiot Flesh and then taken to world class sophistication in the 2000s with the Sleepytimes when they took the world’s stage to woo avant-gardists with some of the most bizarre twisted metal meets prog ever.

Basically the Sleepytimes with a different lineup, FREE SALAMANDER EXIT which takes its name from the same mythology of the Sleepytime Gorilla Press, features Museum curators Nils Frykdahl (vocals, guitar, flute), Dan Rathbun (bass, various homemade instruments) and Michael Mellender (guitar, trumpet, percussion). Also rejoining the merry band of mischief makers is percussionist David Shamrock who had quit the Museum after the debut “Grand Opening and Grand Closing.”

While musically extremely similar to Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, FREE SALAMANDER EXIT is noticeably different with the absence of violinist of Carka Kihlstedt, a role that is mostly filled by Frykdahl’s flute antics. New to the troupe is guitarist and rocker of theremins Drew Wheeler. So far FREE SALAMANDER EXIT has only released this one exotic specimen of avant-prog metal madness titled UNDESTROYED. It was released in 2016 to great fanfare and provided the perfect hit for those still undergoing withdrawal symptoms after their favorite psycho-prog metal band went by the wayside.

Most similar to the Sleepytime’s final offering, the banteringly prog fueled avant-metal madness known as “In Glorious Times,” UNDESTROYED navigates the same choppy musical turf with an extra dose of avant-prog angularities for your listening pleasure. Chock filled with time signature workouts from another dimension, the musical delivery is more on the metal side of things with heavy distorted guitars along with bass and drum bombast and of course Frykdahl’s best demented metal vocal performances. Unlike SGM that features all kinds of strange atmospheric detours and non-metal mind fucks, FREE SALAMANDER EXIT is actually a lot more focused on a basic heavy metal prog type of sound influenced by “Red” era King Crimson and more modern bands like Sweden’s Anekdoten.

UNDESTROYED features seven strong tracks at over 50 minutes of playing time. The tracks are often heavy and distorted and the band doesn’t shy away from some of the most complex time signature craziness bringing the wild world of Henry Cow, Art Bears and other classic Rock In Opposition masters to the forefront as far as the primary influences are concerned. Of course these musicians are so comfortable working together at this point that past endeavors shine through whether ranging from the zaniness of Idiot Flesh or the serious angular nature of the Sleepytimes.

Laced with extreme syncopation effects, avant-funk fueled guitar workouts, more avant-prog time signature weirdness than should be allowed by law and a propensity for catchy yet unthinkably weird musical compositions, FREE SALAMANDER EXIT proves to be a worthy successor of the SGM heritage with just enough familiarities to attract the old fan club but just enough different sounding aspects to keep it separated from the main mothership by several degrees. An excellent and wildly bizarre supplemental project by members of the now legendary Sleepytime Gorilla Museum. It’s unclear if this project was a one time event or will actually continue on especially now that SGM has been resurrected. Whatever the case, UNDESTROYED is a keeper. Perhaps not as epic sounding as the SGM itself but not a bad runner up.

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