Based in Wisconsin, Kopecky consists of three brothers who have forged a distinctive and convincing alloy of metal, instrumental progressive rock, and any number of sub-sub-genres that end with the word ‘-core’. Blood is their fourth recording, and though I found it a bit off-putting initially, I warmed up to it considerably after a few listens. This is not a fusion CD, and I would be willing to wager that the Kopeckys are unapologetic, unrepentant rockers who are looking for more out of life than providing backing for some twit singer with tight pants and teased hair.
Their complex and occasionally meandering compositions clearly emerge from progressive rock, though the tempos are uniformly slow- to-moderate. The overall atmosphere is dark, truculent, and brooding. Though rhythmically complex, some of the more complex passages seem a bit stiff and over-rehearsed. It would all be very oppressive had the brothers not experimented a bit. Fortunately, Blood has some jarring twists and turns - like the weird backward vocal snippets and otherwordly magmatic soundscapes on "Opium".
Kopecky’s music approaches a brighter, tuneful, almost fusion-like sound on tracks such as "Moontown", "Windows", and the uptempo section of "The Red Path". "Garden of Immolation" could have been an outtake from King Crimson’s "Red", while "Infernal Desire Machine" has a nifty little section where the rhythm breaks down and things get real spooky before the brothers re-furrow their collective brow and get all metallic again.
It all works because all three Kopeckys are first-rate musicians. Bassist (and occasional keyboardist and sitarist on their other recordings) William stands out a bit from his siblings. A distinctive stylist with virtuosic technique, he continually alternates between the front line and the rhythm section; laying down a thunderous sub-sonic bass cushion only to turn and whip out jaw-dropping unison lines and improvised countermelodies to Joe’s lead guitar.
It’s not hard to imagine Joe Kopecky fronting a speed-metal band in his spare time. He has that metallic shedding thing down pat. Surprisingly, when it comes to soloing, he is a restrained and tasteful player who really knows how to build tension and release into a solo. His playing on ‘Moontown’ is absolutely stunning in this regard. Paul Kopecky’s drumming is highly influenced by the likes of Terry Bozzio, Neil Peart, and John Bonham. Like Bozzio, he pays a lot of attention to color, and relies heavily on his double-bass pedals, trashy China cymbals, bells, and sloshing hi-hats for a throbbing, alien sound. Like Peart, his delivery is honed to perfection, albeit somewhat militaristic.
My only quibble is that the music on Blood seems to lack humor. A quick look at the band's website suggests that they are not permanently bummed. But, like a lot of metal dudes and progressive rockers past and present, Kopecky seem to want you to take their music very, very, very seriously. However, if you are looking for a quivering slab of extra-crunchy prog-metal, "Blood" should keep you entertained for quite some time.