When it comes to music, I'm omnivorous. I love a variety of styles, and nothing inspires me more than listening to some of the stranger concoctions that spring up from the melodic undergrowth every once in a while. In this article I review three up-and-coming albums by some of the more striking enterpreneurs in cross-over music. You can buy these albums in any refurbished record store. Necrotic Quintet - Birth of the Cult Style: Norwegian Black Jazz
NQ is one of the pioneering cross-over bands to grace (or curse) the Norwegian jazz scene. Incorporating a heavy blend of hell-bound, overdriven fury and beautifully complex scales littered with tritones and other devilry, the multi-instrumentalist and sole band member Herbie "Hurzum" Hoelmstedt proves that though heaven is paradise, hell is where the TRUE party is! Hurzum wades deep in the tried-and-true ambience of the black jazz musical tapestry. The album, complete with cover art of the corpse-painted Hurzum crucified on a baritone saxophone, will no doubt live on as a true classic of the genre.
Jewel: The track Modus Maleficarum splits through your eardrums like a power drill through a hymnal. This quasi-modal, xenharmonic masterpiece invokes in the listener images of darkness, witchcraft and gory orgies. Hurzum's unparallelled jazz skills put the listeners to the test, as they are forced to do some heavy math while trying to figure out just when the bass drum (time signature 19/53) meets the snare (time signature 57/160).
Coal: One track we could do without is Devil Steps, a whopping 16-minute epic odyssey that lacks all sense of direction and ambition. The failure is only augmented when Hurzum shows his (lacking) skills as a black jazz scatter: "Ska da da doom doom death death fire blood ska da doom".
Blind Jonas Jackhammer - Mississippi Über Alles Style: Hardcore Blues
"I WOKE UP THIS MORNING, MOTHERF*@KING MORNING" screams the singer and political activist Blind Jonas Jackhammer after a furious onslaught of overdriven guitars and blastbeating drums in the opening track. Mississippi Über Alles is one of those albums that manages to let loose the beast, but still confine it to the 12-bar pattern of the traditional blues song. Lyrics are very blues-y, with Jonas singing about cotton fields, failed marriages and booze, but they always come with a twist (usually in the guise of every four-letter swear word in the English language, articulated one after the other with rapid precision).
Jewel: Holiday in Jackson was instantaneously hailed as a cult hit on the release of the album. It's just what you'd expect for in a hardcore blues song: twelve bars of anger, frustration and treating musical instruments with the zeal and frenzy only comparable to late night, drug-induced fights with your spouse. If this track doesn't make you want to throw your pet cat through the wall, nothing ever will.
Coal: Why is it so that every hardcore band out there has to be so goddamned political? Bush Blues is just a monotonously dictated political rant about the U.S. administration against a back drop of a lazy shuffle beat. Why, oh why must the otherwise beautifully mindless music of hardcore blues be spoiled with tracks like Bush Blues that make you want to think, and after you're done with pondering, you realise that thinking is the last thing you should involve yourself while listening to Blind Jonas Jackhammer's music.
Steel Girls - Steel Girls Style: Pop Metal
Just when you thought that the metal music genre had been thoroughly categorised to the point of ridiculousness, Steel Girls enters the scene with the eponymous album that solders classic girl band sounds together with a backgrop of downtuned metal guitars and raging double bass drumming. Lyrical content is just about what you'd expect from a girl band, ranging from sleepovers to pillow fights to ex-boyfriends who are graciously described in the track This Bitch Is Self-Sufficient as "those lying and cheating f**ckers, who have no idea how to leave the toilet seat down". Is this the adrenaline rush that the stagnated metal scene requires or just a marketing ploy? That's a question only you, dear reader, can answer, but for the present reviewer this album gave nothing but a feeling of self-loathing for having that dreaded Y chromosome.
Jewel: The aforementioned This Bitch Is Self-Sufficient has everything that the album has to offer, in its best and in its worst. Like I wrote in the review above, if this kind of music strikes you as listenable, you'll love this track. If not, you'll probably use the album as a discus to throw at your concubine.
Coal: Sexy Sexy Samba is just plain awful. Imagine being trapped in a sugar-coated beach house in a Caribbean island, drinking Mai Tais and tanning your abs while dancing with scantily dressed boys and girls of the non-brain-celled disposition. Sounds good, doesn't it? Well it's far from the imagery in Sexy Sexy Samba. The closest thing I can relate the track to is the embarassment of being caught by my co-workers while playing air guitar naked in front of a mirror at the office common room.
[tags]norwegian, black, jazz, hardcore, blues, pop, metal[/tags]