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Hats Off Gentlemen - When The Kill Code Fails

When the Kill Code Fails is a 13-track concept album by British prog-rock band Hats Off Gentlemen It’s Adequate, describing the rise of artificial intelligence, but deviating from the traditionally apocalyptic predictions, instead depicting a benevolent AI creation that learns what it is and then saves the world.

I know, right? Not your average “She doesn’t like me and I’m sad” or “She likes me and I’m happy” album.

This is some incredibly ambitious shit, especially considering nearly half the album is instrumental, relying on a Berlioz-esque nonlyrical narrative to carry the story. For example, the penultimate track “Glass Lithium” has the following album notes: “Vic has had his virtual chains unlocked, and is out in the wider internet, dividing himself to attack the virus. Both he and the virus can divide and evolve in response to the attacks and counter-attacks. Vic subdues the virus, although it can't be completely destroyed everywhere. He takes on the role of a protector, diffusely distributed across networks, watching out for a resurgent virus.”

Oh, right. That’s what I thought.

That being said, this album is really really fun. Listening to it a few times through while reading the album notes on the band’s CD Baby (which you can go to HERE) gave me a great hour and really captivated me, which doesn’t always happen with this kind of conceptual music.

The album isn’t mixed very well; lead singer Malcolm Galloway, who presumably leads the band, writing all the lyrics and shaping the theme of the album, has an awesome blues yell which unfortunately sticks out too prominently in the mix. The backing instruments are well played but too far away. Galloway really needs a loud electric guitar chugging away right next to his vocal.

You can hear the Pink Floyd influence right away; the lead guitar, played by either Galloway or the other credited guitarist Ibon Ibon, has the same effects and even technicality as David Gilmour, with his characteristic bends and pick scrapes. This is especially apparent in my personal favourite track, #11 “Solace,” which even has a few Santana influences in its opening. Galloway’s repeated “carry me” grows in energy every time, and the electric keyboard provides lovely atmospheric harmony.

When the Kill Code Fails is diligently conceived and passionately created, but a better mix/master would do it a huge deal of good. I’d be excited to hear new music from Hats Off Gentlemen It’s Adequate. Until then, quench your thirst for some good old-fashioned conceptual prog rock here.

Score: 4/5

Track Listing:

1. When the Kill Code Fails

2. Broken Wave

3. Layers

4. Connections

5. Head in a Jar

6. Link

7. Going Down

8. I Still Remember You

9. My Clockwork Heart

10. Freerunning

11. Solace

12. Glass Lithium

13. Alive

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