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Bringing a creative work into existence over a long, interrupted span of time poses certain challenges. It’s a lot harder to form a cohesive whole when circumstances force you to keep starting and stopping over months and years, so it’s a real credit to any artist who can succeed in navigating a piece of art through a difficult gestation period. Take an amusing and oft-reported story about the filming of David Lynch’s cult classic Eraserhead, for example. Lynch could only proceed with shooting scenes as money allowed; in one instance, lead actor Jack Vance was filmed walking through a door, but it took another full year before Lynch could raise the funds to film Vance actually entering the room.

Blind Idiot God have been working on Before Ever After, their first album in 22 years, in some capacity since re-uniting in 2001. But, as with Eraserhead, you wouldn’t know it’s taken so long just by listening to the final result. Before is a deeply ambitious album with sterling ensemble playing and a fantastic recording job by long-time producer and avant-metal hall-of-famer Bill Laswell.

For the uninitiated, Blind Idiot God burst onto the post-hardcore scene with their iconic 1987 debut sporting an already fully-realized blend of metal, dub, psych rock, and modern classical music as interpreted by a noisy power trio. The band put out two more albums before announcing a hiatus in 1996 following the departure of original drummer Ted Epstein.

Guitar whiz and lone constant member Andy Hawkins has always served as the band’s main spiritual and intellectual engine. It’s been his modernist chords, spacy tangents, fiery leads and rippling peals of distortion that have come to define the band’s sound. Over the course of the album’s disc-filling runtime, he’s given plenty of room to branch out and explore the many different facets of his playing. Solid rhythm section support comes from drummer Tim Wyskida (whose intricate grooves may surprise metal fans who only know him from his painfully slow bashing in Khanate) and Gabriel Katz, who has since left the band, citing issues with tendinitis.

The record follows a loose structure of alternating between songs that show off the more heavy and dissonant side of the band and those that feature more of the dub and funk influences that separate the group from other loud instrumental acts. So, a track like “Earthmover” that sounds like a Berklee thesis in stoner metal is followed by a psychoactive reggae jam like “Night Driver.” These sonically split personalities could make for a disorienting listen, especially given the protracted nature of the album’s recording sessions, but BIG are ambitious and talented enough to pull it all off. Like Lynch, they’re perfectionists; and Before Ever After is strong evidence that some things just can’t be rushed.

—Jason Bailey

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