photo & text by nacrowe
i remember being back in NEW JERSEY for winter break after my first semester in boarding school up in WESTERN MASSACHUSETTS and first hearing the propulsive and infectious "NEW SKIN" single off of INCUBUS' wildly inventive S.C.I.E.N.C.E. (EPIC, 1997) album on the local NYC ALTERNATIVE ROCK station 92.3FM KROCK. being in boarding school was kind of like being on a religious retreat, i was intently focused on my studies and pretty much unaware of anything outside the confines of the campus. it was an intense period.
INCUBUS was signed to the IMMORTAL imprint at EPIC RECORDS that seemingly specialized in the burgeoning ALTERNATIVE ROCK / NU-METAL scene of the period. other signees included KORN, SNOT, THE URGE and later THIRTY SECONDS TO MARS. its funny now to think that such a multi-faceted group as INCUBUS was lumped together with label-mates KORN, but back in the late 1990s such was the case.
to my ears INCUBUS was sonically adventurous from the get-go. guitarist MIKE EINZIGER seemingly never met a PHASER or PITCH-SHIFTING pedal that he never liked as the band seemed to revel in conked-out interstellar soundscapes and bouncing, melodic textures, which coupled with the FUNK METAL of the incredibly tight rhythm section of ALEX KATUNICH and JOSE PASILLAS made for quite the formidable sonic experience. and then there is BRANDON BOYD, the lead singer. lyrically and conceptually the dude was obsessed with everything from BUDDHISM and EASTERN PHILOSOPHY to SCIENCE FICTION and the philosophical ramifications of living in an infinite universe with a finite set of sensory tools to facilitate any meaning from them. in a sense, id argue that BOYD's outer-body lyricism and potent stage presence actually grounded the band.
more so on S.C.I.E.N.C.E. then all later releases, this album found the band coming to terms with their own intense musical and interpersonal connection as a unit and found them really pushing their boundaries, especially on tracks such as "A CERTAIN SHADE OF GREEN," "VITAMIN," "CALGONE," "REDEFINE" and especially "SUMMER ROMANCE (ANTI-GRAVITY LOVE SONG)." later on their focus was much more attuned to song-craft and cohesive structures that more effectively support a central concept, both sonically and lyrically. but on this record its all out there which is why it is one of my favorite records from this period, right up there with DEFTONES' WHITE PONY (MAVERICK, 2000) and MR. BUNGLE's CALIFORNIA (WARNER BROS, 1999).
S.C.I.E.N.C.E. is a great starting point for anyone interested in investigating the more adventurist and idiosyncratic of 1990s ALTERNATIVE ROCK.