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The Living: The Jungle Is Dark But Full Of Diamonds

Experimental string rockers nearly outstay a very warm welcome.

This Vancouver band bring us string quartet vibes set against crunchy guitars and topped with modern rock vocals, then the whole damn thing’s given an outré twist. The Jungle Is Dark But Full Of Diamonds (a quote from Arthur Miller’s Death Of A Salesman) starts as a very interesting mish-mash.

Muse’s romantic histrionica informs Earthmusher, an excellent fusion of chamber music, roaring axes and frontman Bell’s charismatic persona. He draws convincingly on everyone from System Of A Down’s Serj Tankian to David Sylvian to Matt Bellamy - the latter especially on album highlight We Are The Bubble, They Are The Prick, complete with slap-bass interlude.

Hints of Mike Patton’s avant-gardists Mr Bungle here too: Designer Blindfold heads out as a symph-rocker then hits the disco. The mischievous arrangements of tongue-in-cheek drama Maximum Gentleman are in the same sonic space as Tim Burton’s composer fétiche, Danny Elfman, but the novelty does begin to pall.

The über-theatrical eight-minuter Requiem For Bessie jars with the knowing fun of what’s gone before, though infectious Music Is Magic and Nick Cave parody Sneaky Patina claw it back at the death. Worth a listen.