Death & Taxes | Theenigmathatisman

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Rock: Progressive Rock Metal/Punk: Progressive Metal Moods: Type: Experimental
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by Death & Taxes

Kick ass hard rock trio from out of this world
Genre: Rock: Progressive Rock
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Becoming
2:09 album only
2. Questions In Question
5:37 album only
3. What Can You Make of This?
2:35 album only
4. Words of a Feather
6:01 album only
5. Human Fly
6:22 album only
6. Instrumental with Words
10:44 album only
7. The Enigma That Is Man
4:55 album only
8. Bottomless Hippopotamus
4:44 album only
9. Frenetic Genetic Overdrive
5:38 album only
10. Diet of Worms
6:22 album only
11. Afterwords
14:49 album only


Album Notes
The new Death & Taxe$ CD, titled "The Alaska 12 Expeditions" IS NOW AVAILABLE.

Issue 40
Spring 2002

Unlike the images of final certainty their name conjures, Death & Taxes plays an "anything goes" amalgam of progressive rock, jazz, fusion and even a little heavy metal. An improvisational approach allows band members (and a handful of guest players) to squeeze their creative juices onto virtually every note of Theenigmathatisman, the California trio's second album. Challenging, unnerving and certainly not something you'd want to digest during a particularly trying day, the music of Death & Taxes transports listeners to a higher plane in much the same way Rush, Yes, and King Crimson once did.

If you take time to really hear the lyrics over the cacophony of their quirky delivery, you'll encounter some fascinating turns of phrase. Take these vivid lines from the title track: "Enter will, and thoughts he can't get out of his mind/Soul to till, hands to produce the fruits of his mind/A thrust of good and evil entwined/In the task of navigating his mind". And what song titled "Instrumental with Words" isn't going to arouse curiousity?

Indeed, curiosity may be what initially draws listeners to Death & Taxes. But a pervasive desire to better grasp this band and it's work will keep them coming back. - Michael Popke

Progressive Newsletter (Germany) November 2001 Issue -

Five years after their debut album "Paradigms for a New Quarter" (Kritik PNL Nr. 21), the California trio "Death & Taxe$" releases their second work. Any band that describes its own style as progressive metal fusion and whose spectrum of influences includes Rush, The Beatles, Miles Davis, Kiss Yes, King Crimson and Iron Maiden, is clearly a band that sets no limits for itself. This second effort of Death & Taxe$ is as multifaceted as their first, no lightweight offering. The trio doesn't allow the listener any time to rest or think. With energy and tension, this album rocks off to a great start, then continually changes direction. Its toughness and aggression reveals its Metal base, but it just as easily takes off in a funk/jazz direction (with a guest trumpeter). The music is quick-changing but never drifts aimlessly. When Tom Shannon switches from bass to Chapman Stick, the groove gets intense. In spite of the many stylistic directions, these Americans always tie it together with surprising segues, which doesn't make this album any less complex. These three take time to stretch out or to relax in the many instrumental parts and aren't only concerned with fast playing, but more to create a mood.

Because of the many influences, this album was slightly inconsistent, which could be considered either a pro or a con. In contrast to their first album, this one is more irregular, but in its instrumental realm, it has its gripping moments, over and over again.


Exposé (USA) Issue No. 23, December 2001 -

Five years after their debut Paradigms For a New Quarter, LA area trio Death & Taxe$ is here with their long awaited follow-up, no less unsettling than their first, but more focused and uniquely twisted. There's still a strong Rush influence at work here, though D&T sound nothing like the Canadian trio, instead finding a raw funkiness that drives at the bottom end and an edgy metallic guitar sound that screams with aggression. Gone are the cookie-monster vocals - this time singer/bassist/stick-player and primary composer Tom Shannon sings it direct with a healthy dose of attitude a la Sky Saxon, and combined with the wall of sonic textures and soaring guitar solos, it all contributes to a newly found psychedelicism within the band's sound. The spirited lead work of Vince Martinez spins around inside the listener's head while Shannon and drummers Mark Hanson or Don Medina (track depending - seems they switched drummers mid-stream) blast upward from the bottom end. Occasionally the guitars take on an almost jazzy tone ("The Enigma That is Man," for example) that combines with the punchy bottom end to create a very unique sound that seems to straddle a number of genre-bending styles simultaneously. Likewise on tracks like "Diet of Worms," the guitars take on a shimmery tone while the throbbing bass tones burn with urgent intensity. While D&T are not particularly difficult or avant-garde, they are definitely operating in sonic territory where few have gone before.

-Peter Thelan


Colossus Magazine (Finland) - December 2001

Death & Taxe$ calls their music progressive jazz/metal/fusion and this is what you get on their album "Theenigmathatisman"... the sound is heavy and the rhythms change suddenly... the players of the band seem very talented... for fans of heavy rock.
Reviewed by: David Cisco, October 2001
One of Los Angeles' more intriguing exports, Death & Taxe$ sport a musical approach uniquely their own. DnT (their acronym, not mine) bill their sound as "Progressive Jazz Metal Fusion" and their claim is absolutely credible as their musical explorations are eclectic and adventurous. The band's influences are equally diverse, ranging from Rush to Miles Davis. Odd time signatures, neck-snapping dynamics, crunching power metal, and wild improvisations abound, giving the listener plenty to digest and enjoy.

Theenigma... is opened by the brief atonal jam, "Becoming," that gives way to "Questions In Question," could be an outtake from Hemispheres, complete with heavily phased and fuzzed guitars a la Alex Lifeson circa 1979. "What Can You Make Of This" and '"Words Of A Feather" both sound like a funky, driving Led Zeppelin, the former complete with horns. "Human Fly" keeps the funk a-rollin', built around Vince Martinez's twangy guitars and Tom Shannon's bass and Stick riffs, poking fun at modern technology and convenience while taking a sharp stick to the eyes of Luddites and the Unabomber.

"Instrumental With Words" is the album's first epic, the first seven minutes of which is eerily reminiscent of Disintegration-era Cure (this is NOT a bad thing!). The final four minutes become a roaring metal improvisation, alternately similar to Rush and Liquid Tension Experiment, thanks again to Martinez and Shannon.

"The Enigma That Is Man" ponders the contradictory nature of human behavior, and supports its theme by juxtaposing an acoustic beginning against a racing electric finish. "Bottomless Hippopotamus" follows as a swinging blues and again features competing bass and guitar improvisations. "Frenetic Genetic Overdrive" kicks out the progressive metal jams, blowing down the proverbial doors while sounding like an overture for "Diet Of Worms" which rages in and uses the example of Martin Luther's struggles with the Catholic church to rail against enforced conformity and resistance to necessary change. "After Words" - the second epic - closes the album with an offbeat juxtaposition of ambience, improvisation, and heavy metal. Horns, harmonics, cymbals, tablas, and electric guitars collide in a spacey improvisation that threatens to collapse in on itself before giving way to a driving prog-metal finale.

Ultimately, Theenigmathatisman is an interesting listen that falls squarely into the "acquired taste" category. Heavy fusion and progressive metal fans will find plenty to like about Theenigmathatisman while progressive purists won't be so receptive to, probably because of the coarse production and DnT's aggressive approach. Don't be deterred though - Death & Taxe$ have done a good job with Theenigmathatisman and clearly deserve a spin on your cd player. Me? I like it - a lot!



to write a review

Gergely Dévényi (from Budapest, Hungary)

This is unbelievable jazz/metal from a very original and energetic trio.
Wow, this is absolutely 5 stars material! I found a few years ago a couple of their official MP3s at It was an amazing experience, listening for the first time to their "Frenetic Genetic Overdrive". At last (thanks CD Baby!) I managed to order two of their Cds! This is a stunning blend of innovative, heavily jazz influenced metal. Great vocals from both late Tom Shannon and Vince Martinez. Unbelievable fretless bass grooves and stick play, warped and superb guitar textures, underpinned by the heavy, pounding rythyms of Mark Hanson / Don Medina. This is serious, complex, ultimately progressive music, a brand new approach. I don't want to cite any similarities, because this band is playing some very original music. It is really sad, that Tom passed away (R.I.P. bassman!), but I really do think that his memory will never fade away: I just have to turn this record again and again and again...