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Album Of The Month December 2008
Transit | ‘Decent Man On Desperate Moon’

Try this one for size: extreme metal pioneer, captor of some of the best atmospheres in the underground’s history, effortless cool, intelligent take, sideways look – but would you even recognise the name of Jan Kenneth Tranceth in metal’s annals?

You should. He was the enigmatic voice of In The Woods, and one of the first vocalists to move on from the shrieking of their blackened metal to the kind of distinctive singing that made albums like ‘Omnio’ the leftfield genius they were.

Though it sounds precisely of its era now, it must be remembered that even ‘HEart Of The Ages’ was vastly ahead of the pack. Tranceth’s vocals were a huge part of that, and despite the band’s disappearance (some would say up their own arse) as of latter years, his steering of the band was far enough from the crowd to warrant real attention – whatever they were sounding like. That’s to say nothing, of course, of their Jefferson Airplane covers.

He’s flying solo this time, singer songrwiter style, with nothing but the bare bones of good songwriting and devastatingly cool lyrics. There’s no prog madness in here – it’s absolutely straight down the line, a man putting across simple observations and brilliant, darkened pop rock.

The best ones always do it this way. It’s what Depeche Mode (more later) might refer to as the ‘subtle thunder’.  Ulver, Tiamat, Beyond Dawn, Solefald’s Cornelius – these are smart people, and Jan Kenneth is of their mould. That’s why no matter what form their whims take, you should keep going back.

‘Miller Song’ has a fair bit of latter day Anathema, with soft cello and piano, equally as atmospheric and meaningfully penned as the Liverpudlians. ‘Bleed On Me’ is pure Tiamat crossed with bang up to the moment Depeche Mode (it’s those countrified Gretsch guitars or something). ‘Damed If I Dont’ says it all, while ‘Bleed On Me’ is as strong as anything on ‘Mechanical Animals’ – which it pays to remember is actually a jolly good record, despite your posturing. Problem?

It is perhaps opener ‘New Man’ though that’s the biggest, cheekiest kick. Sounding for all the world like KT Tunstall (yes), it’s got an effortless black cool that crosses pop sensibility with the bleedingly obvious fact that this man is a metal genius.

His voice is better than ever, and the message – ‘I’m a new new man with a new new plan, and it ain’t no plan at all‘ – delivered almost jokingly, is rapier like.  To any fans of old, I’d contend you need this album. It may very well have you in kinks the for the first spin. After that though, it’s grown up dark rock done with more charisma and mercurial wit than you can possibly push to the back of your pile. Trust me, it just won’t happen.

4.7 / 5 – Earl Grey::: 24/12/08

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