Short reviews: Deftones, Die Antwoord, Fantômas, Tomahawk, Graveyard, Kvelertak, Nordvrede, Shining, Sólstafir, TrollfesT, Witchcraft

Deftones - Koi No Yokan (2012)

It took me a good while to have courage to give Koi No Yokan a listen, simply because Deftones' last album Diamond Eyes was such a good album. After a really good album you're quite often afraid to give the next one a try, in fear of disappointment. Well, Koi No Yokan wasn't a big disappointment, but it still didn't quite reach the Diamond Eyes level. In my case, this could be because of different circumstances at the listener's end - for me music is always a very subjective experience, and I just remember Diamond Eyes came into my life at a more crucial moment, for an album like that, than Koi No Yokan.
I remember listening to this album on early summer forest walks. Maybe that's why I get somewhat romantic vibes with this album. Associations to a greening nature and rising fertility. Hmm. But I'll attach Goon Squad here, it is not quite as romantic.
Koi No Yokan 7,8/10


Die Antwoord - $O$ (2010), Ten$ion (2012)

Even if Die Antwoord isn't quite the type of music my soul sings to, I cannot leave them out of this blog because I've honestly spent shitloads of hours (days, weeks, months) listening to them. Die Antwoord is a South-African hiphop group whose style might make you wonder whether the band is a joke, but believe me, it ain't no joke. It is all carefully planned and very serious.

Die Antwoord is indeed mostly hiphop (but also very electro-ish), but the only stereotypical hiphop feature that I can think of in their music is the very self-righteous lyrics about how awesome they are, and about money and fame and all that, but the way they bring out these lyrics is very original. (Although I'm saying this with my very limited knowledge of hiphop.) The singers Yo-Landi and Ninja definitely have very atypical rapping voices and styles, and the language variation (South African English, Afrikaans, probably some other South-African languages) is also something you don't hear everyday. To top it off, Die Antwoord's visual style is a world of its own, and they make magnificent music videos. I Fink U Freeky (below) is one of the coolest ones. This band is so awfully awesome. Sometimes awful, other times purely awesome.
$O$ 6,7/10
Ten$ion 8,4/10


Fantômas - Fantômas (1999), The Director's Cut (2000)
Tomahawk - Mit Gas (2003)

It is such a waste that I haven't paid too much attention to Mike Pattons magic music before. And still such a waste that I still am ignorant to most of it today. There is simply too much good music in this world.. May the Dark Lord grant me time, money, and motivation to find my way to more of it.

Anyhow. Both Tomahawk and Fantômas are situated somewhere in the experimental and/or alternative sphere of rock music, and they are both projects where the mastermind of music Mike Patton (originally known from Faith No More) is involved. Based on these three albums, Fantômas is definitely a lot more experimental than Tomahawk, which is basically mainstream next to Fantômas. You might be able to dance to Tomahawk, but if you'd attempt to dance to the 1999 Fantômas' debut album, people would think you're having a seizure. Yes, the last mentioned album is practically 30 tracks of noise made with varying instruments of producing sounds. Groovy as fuck though. Mental as fuck as well.
(Previously I have listened to Delirium Cordia (2004) by Fantômas, which is a 74 minute terrifying, horror-themed piece of magnificent music. I recommend that as well.)

The Director's Cut, on the other hand, consists of songs that have been previously released on movie soundtracks. Essentially it's a cover album, but oh boy, you ain't never heard covers like this. Funny story related to this: Even though I didn't know it at the time, I had a song from this album on a fucking cassette tape around the year 2001 or something. I was very enchanted by that song but it took me fucking 12 years to find out what it was... It was this one:

Must've been an evil process the song had to go through to end up like this.. So awesome.

Fantômas 10/10
The Director's Cut 9/10
Mit Gas 8,7/10


Graveyard - Lights Out (2012)

Right now it feels like Graveyard's Lights Out is leaving a deeper mark on me than its predecessor Hisingen Blues (2011), which has also been a very dear album to me. I think my timing for listening to Lights Out was perfect, and because there isn't a clear one-above-all hit on this album, I've been able to focus on the album as a whole. There's something about the atmosphere on Lights Out that I find very cozy. Even though the song themes vary from social criticism to love to depression and beyond, the same scruffy, vintage-like, homey feeling is always there. 20/20 (Tunnel Vision) is at the depressive end of the scale, a song that I enjoy very much.
Lights Out 9/10


Kvelertak - Meir (2013)

Hmm, yes, the only cd I bought for a full price while living in Norway last year. This album hasn't left me as blissful as Kvelertak's debut album, which is not surprising, I guess, as the debut was a 10/10 masterpiece. In the beginning of listening to this album I tried to hang on to the remnants of the good old Kvelertak by focusing my attention on the few evil tunes and darkness on Meir. But the truth is that there was a shift in focus, and with this album the band introduced a lot of new elements in their music as well. I think I didn't fully get into this album until I saw the band live in July, and realized that Kvelertak's energy doesn't have to be evil to be good. One of my favorite songs on the album is Evig Vandrar, which gives me warm and fuzzy feelings of a vagabond wandering through life.
I will reunite with Kvelertak next week as they will have a short tour in Finland, this will surely be magical!
Meir 8/10


Nordvrede - Monument Viktoria (2013)

I don't have an all-encompassing view of the black metal scene in Northern Norway, or in Tromsø, but based on the bands that I have heard, Nordvrede is at the top of the list, in terms of black metal from Tromsø and Northern Norway. They've released four albums so far, two of which came out last year, Monument Viktoria being the first one. In my opinion Nordvrede is one of those bm bands who don't make things complicated. The band plays brutal and evil black metal with plenty of melodies, exactly the kind of stuff that I don't need to contemplate on whether it's good or not. It is. Even though I would say Nordvrede plays relatively simple black metal, it still has a lot of soul in it and the songs are not simply punk, but have at times even progressive structures. I think it is a perfect balance of simple riffs and more complex trickery.
Below is A Flash from the Oven to warm your cold hearts.
Monument Viktoria 9/10


Shining - Blackjazz (2010)

The Norwegian Shining is probably among the strangest bands I've ever listened to - strange in a good sense. They apparently started out as a jazz band, but now have ended up in this aggressive avant garde experiemental jazz metal form. I had to check this band out last summer because they were also performing at the Bukta festival, but unfortunately I was working during their concert. However I did get a few glimpses of them on the main stage and heard them, recognizing the only two songs I knew by them at that point (Fisheye and I Won't Forget). Later I talked to an aquintance who saw the full concert, and his comment was "He raped the shit out of that saxophone!" Damnit how I would've loved to see that!

Well, you can absolutely hear some of that saxophone raping on this album. This album has a dark, schitzoid type of nature. It is very mechanic and industrial, but on the other hand, the jazziness, for the example the saxophone, does bring a certain warmth into the music at times. The song Fisheye is the "poppiest" song on the album, and it is probably one of my most played songs this year. A perfect song, essentially. Even though Fisheye stands out as the poppiest song, the album is filled with many other, more progressive masterpieces. Exit Sun (Pt 1) is an example of those.
Blackjazz 8/10


Sólstafir - Svartir Sandar (2011), Köld (2009)

Svartir Sandar has persisted on my playlist since the end of 2012, and I furthered my knowledge of this band by getting my hands on their previous album Köld as well.
Köld is a lot darker and not as versatile or experimental as Svartir Sandar, but I still find both albums very enjoyable. However, on darker times Köld can be hard to listen to, because it is very, very bleak. In times like those Svartir Sandar is my preferred choice, as it has more hope in it. Melrakkablús from Svartir Sandar has been one of my absolute favorite songs this year. As far as I've understood, it's a song about the arctic fox of Iceland.
Svartir Sandar 9/10
Köld 8/10


TrollfesT - Brumblebassen (2012)

I have begun to open my mind to more folk metal and I am slowly overcoming my fear of violins and accordions and other strange folky instruments... Whenever trolls are involved, this is somehow easier. TrollfesT is an extremely interesting Norwegian troll/folk metal band whose style is sometimes described as true Norwegian balkan metal, due to the oriental balkan influences in the music, with a dash of black metal thrown in there. These guys are remarkably skilled in handling all sorts of instruments. And the creativity in their heads, jeez! The versatility in songs, the stories in the lyrics, and the whole world of trolls and troll adventures they create, with even a language of its own (Trollspråk, a mixture of Norwegian and German). Humor plays a big role in TrollfesT and for me this is definitely feelgood music, even though the stories sometimes can leave you heartbroken (Verboten Kjærleik..). But for example the song Finsken, Norsken og Presten is a heartwarming story about a Finnish troll and a Norwegian troll who go hunting for priests together - featuring Vreth from Finntroll on vocals btw. Ahh, Nordic friendship!
Here is a hilarious video for TrinkenTroll.
Brumblebassen 8/10


Witchcraft - Legend (2012)

Witchcraft got me interested in themselves when I saw them live at Bukta in July. Their performance was very interesting... musically skilled, but also psychedelic - the singer looked like he was on an acid trip, for example. Definitely a very entertaining band to watch live. Witchcraft is a Swedish hard rock band, heavily influenced by classic hard rock, and they've been around since the early 2000's. I think they plunged into the mainstream awareness with this 2012 album, and particularly with the hit single It's Not Because of You. It's an awesome song, got to admit, and so is the album in its entirety. Based on a few listens on their older albums, I'd say the secret of the success of Legend is that it has a fuller, more powerful, more modern, undeniably more mainstream sound and production. This type of sound really brings out the best in Witchcraft songs, in my opinion, and for example the vocals sound amazing on this album. I love singers like Magnus Pelander, who sound like they don't need to make much effort to sing powerfully and impeccably. Listen to Deconstruction below to hear him doing his magic!
Legend 9/10


Peace out!

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