Avant-Garde metal is one of those sub-genres that is so inconsistent its frustrating.
On the one hand you have bands like Unexpect who are just too chaotic and dont sit still long enough to get into any kind of groove or rhythm.
I remember picking up one of their albums and was greatly impressed by the musicianship and there were certain passages in all of the songs which really stood out as genius stuff.
It was all tainted by a lack of song structure and an un-willingness to sit still. The problem is most bands who are branded avant-garde seem to fall into this category.
Then, on the other hand you have a band like Diablo Swing Orchestra, whose debut album ‘The Butchers Ballroom’ was a mix of swing, metal, opera, classical and a host of other styles.
On paper it sounds like a mess.
But it really worked, and the main thing saving it was that the band had the most important aspect down. They had songs.
New album ‘Pacifisticuffs’ has followed a similar path with a few changes here and there.
Creative? No Doubt
The biggest change in the band is the departure of the operatic vocals that were featured on all previous albums.
There is a new female vocalist who sounds pretty similar to Gwen Stefani of No Doubt fame.
In fact as the album went on I found myself comparing this to No Doubt’s album ‘Tragic Kingdom’. Albeit a heavier version, but it has that same funky, catchy feel that ‘Tragic Kingdom’ had. This is probably mainly due to the vocalist. And it’s no bad thing in my opinion.
‘Knucklehugs (Arm Yourself With Love)’ opens the album and its got a very funky feel to it.
The bridge section also has some Elvis type warbling over it. A cool little song and as on previous releases its a typical opener for them and doesnt give a great indication to what the rest of the album holds.
‘The Age Of Vulture Culture’ and ‘Superhero Jagganath’ are everything that is great about this band. The latter features an excellent classical inspired chorus and both songs have the whole band chipping in and complimenting each other perfectly.
Then we are treated to an interlude which is an ambient type track. Absolutely pointless. And there is 3 of them on the album.
I honestly have no idea why they insist on putting these pointless tracks on their records. If anything all they do is annoy the hell out of me as when i saw the track-listing i taught i was getting 12 songs.
‘Lady Clandestine Chainbreaker’ has an infectious chorus and has been stuck in my head since hearing it. Again, the No Doubt comparison cuts through here especially in the vocals.
‘Jigsaw Hustle’ was realeased as a single a few years ago and has a very disco feel to it. This one doesn’t do all that much for me.
Then they toss out ‘Ode To The Innocent’ which is a song they should have used as an interlude as its essentially just strings and the female vocals.
‘Interruption’ and ‘Karma Bonfire’ have us back on familiar ground with the former again having a great chrous.
Final track ‘Climbing The Eyewall’ works really well as a closer and has a subtle sound to it while still having some of those trademark twangy riffs scattered through-out it. Its always great when bands put a closer that actually feels like one rather than a song tacked on at the end to fill up some time-space.
All in all this is a pretty killer release which has plenty to sink your teeth into if you are willing to delve in. For gods sake though, please leave out these pointless interludes on future releases.
3.8 / 5 – Ollie Gill ::: 17/12/17