The Number 12 Looks Like You is a band name I've never been able to figure out the meaning of [Ed.'s Note: Before any of you jump in, yes, it's the name of a "Twilight Zone" episode, and a particularly good one at that. Not that there's ever been a bad episode of "Twilight Zone"]. Upon listening to Mongrel, the debate is automatically rendered useless, because the music's strong enough to faciltate discussion on its own.
On Mongrel, the Number 12 have taken the grindcore/metal sound they've crafted over their last few releases and added new elements. The result is something not as chaotic and hellish, but just as intense and much smarter than anything else they've put out. It also feels less straightforward than their other material. Gone are the power chords and metal riffs of their previous work. The guitars never let down; the riffs are always interesting. The band experiments with several styles throughout the album, blending them all flawlessly. I'm sure the feel of the record stems from Casey Bates' (Fear Before the March of Flames' The Always Open Mouth, Portugual. The Man, Gatsbys American Dream) production.
One of the evident things that makes this album so great is the contrast within. The Number 12 has learned exactly when to use each of their many vocal stylings. They know when to break their riff out into a clean sound and then jump right back into what they were playing. There are several interludes between tracks that just work somehow.
The Number 12 have always been influenced by a few certain bands, but on this album, there are several points where you could be listening to the Dillinger Escape Plan or Saetia. Within the first track, "Image Nation Express," a clear Dillinger influence shines though. There is a math-y feel to it, as well as it breaking into jazz at one point. As they stutter "I don't agree / to disagree" you can't help but scream and sing along. This is the first of many examples of the newfound melodic sound the Number 12 has discovered.
Another standout track is "Jay Walking Backwards," which is in my opinion, the best track on the record, from the calm, cool intro to the opening singing/screaming, to the prayer of "Jesus my lord / don't take this good man / just let him finish / what you began / stop covering the pavement / with his blood / can you hear me?" Most of the songs on the album are memorable, but the most memorable would have to be "Paperweight Pigs," with its acoustic grindcore breakdown, and "Cradle in the Crater," with its shouting of "Next time you fall asleep / realize it may / be better to forever / count sheep," and "The Weekly Wars," with its repeating of "A halting machine / A haunting disease / A man with no release."
For fans of the Number 12, you will see how much they have evolved and love this record. For those who like intense music but didn't like the Number 12's insane, metallic sound of their past work, this album might just open up some new doors for you.