REVIEW FROM DECIBEL MAGAZINE:
Electroshock therapy as the new noise rock. Pittsburgh trio Microwaves have two other albums to their credit—2OO2's System 2 and 2oo4's Attack Decay Sustain Release— but Contagion Heuristic flattens both in its first two tracks. And yet, curiously enough, this album never should've happened—the band technically broke up prior to Attack Decay's release, with members going on to Zombi and Don Caballero. But with the addition of ex-Creation is Crucifixion member Adam MacGregor on bass, Microwaves sound legitimately reborn. They also sound deformed, twisted, overdriven, and unpredictable, with a sound that fuses late-period no wave (think the Flying Luttenbachers, minus the jazz chops) with classic hardcore negativity (e.g., Black Flag, Flipper) via testicular electrocution. For music like this to work, it needs an utterly shitty, treble-heavy tone, and that's what Contagion Heuristic has, with bass and guitar arcing in white-hot static blurs over drummer John Roman's frenzied, snare-and-cymbal-heavy drumming. But there's also a very live sense of energy that defies 99 percent of every professionally recorded "extreme" album currently in existence. Even when the band sounds on the verge of collapse, you get the sense they're feeling it. 9 out of 10 rating.
REVIEW FROM PITTSBURGH CITY PAPER:
Not so with longstanding avant-metal sludgemongers Microwaves. Sure, they broke up publicly at least once, in mid-2004 (promises, promises), but now the group's releasing a new disc on the Crucial Blast label and undertaking a sizable tour. Needless to say, with Contagion Heuristic, founding 'waves John Roman and Dave Kuzy are baaack, sailing the seas of glue this time with Adam McGregor (of Creation is Crucifixion and Conelrad) on the unholy laser bass. (Original bassist Steve Moore now plays in Zombi.)
The 30-odd minutes of Heuristic are split into ten tracks of varying intensity and intent, from the grim to the goofball. Some sound like you fell asleep watching old Battlestar Galactica episodes while someone in the next room doused the entire membership of An Albatross in gasoline and dropped a match. "Eye Removal" taps a nightmarish paranoia before unleashing the sci-fi laser beams.
Spacey and sludgy, this latest from the Microwaves tempts you to affix a tentative stoner-metal label. Except there's no way I'd be able to listen to this while high. But then again I'm not, to use their phrase, a "slime aesthete," so if you want to, that's your problem. May you enjoy this sick 'n' awesome half-hour from these local vets.
REVIEW FROM SCENEPOINTBLANK:
I don't think I've ever heard an album come from this far out in left field and still come together flawlessly. The general consensus seems to be that you can either have a totally bizarre album or a catchy, cohesive album, but you can't have both. But Pittsburgh, PA's Microwaves is living proof that they don't have to be mutually exclusive. This band is obscure enough to impress all of your hip, indie friends, but at the same time, it's something you can actually sit down and listen to over and over.
Microwaves has been called “no wave,” but that doesn't seem to give a good idea of how they actually sound. The sound of Microwaves is a wacked-out whirlwind of skronky guitars (that sound like a more focused version of that one guy who did the Space Ghost: Coast to Coast theme music), synth-laden bass, and powerhouse drumming. When you take the delirious vocals into account, they sound to me like a less high-pitched version of Arab on Radar crossbred with the noisy, mathy freakouts of Daughters. This is complimented by a nice, lo-fi production. What really propels the songs is the happily noisy bass, played through all sorts of effects by mad scientist Adam MacGregor (former guitarist of Creation is Crucifixion and current guitarist of Conelrad). And while Contagion Heuristic is crazy and off-kilter, what really sets it apart is that it's genuinely listenable.
I'm sure it's been said before, but somewhere along the line, my generation (college-aged kids) came up with this nonsensical idea that for a band to be heavy they have to have over-distorted, down-tuned guitars and the same boring, repetitive groove. Microwaves should be required listening because it proves what a laughable idea this is. This album is way more intense, jarring, and insane than just about every album labeled “metal” or “extreme” that was recorded in the last fifteen years. Contagion Heuristic oozes with the kind of energy and chaos that makes metalcore sound like a bunch of diluted crap.
The bottom line is that Contagion Heuristic drew me in because it is so unconventional and cliché-free, but I still can't stop listening to it because the songs are so solid. Trust me, this behemoth of a thirty-minute album will suck you in and you won't want to listen to “regular” music for weeks. 9.0 / 10