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(54:37, Karisma Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. A Norwegian Requiem 6:27 2. Rubber-Legged Man 5:46 3. Voodoo 6:21 4. Flapping Lips at Ankle Height 6:13 5. The Fixed Wheel 3:09 6. The Giant Fire 4:28 7. Sjo & Land 12:19 8. This Is the Universe 9:54 LINEUP: Rolf Edvartsen – guitars; vocals Oyvind Gronner – keyboards; vocals Thomas Gronner – drums Truls Eriksen – bass
Prolusion. The Norwegian band BRIMSTONE started out as The Brimstone Solar Radiation band back in 1998, and released three full-length productions using this original moniker, the aptly named "Smorgasbord" from 2009 the most recent of these. Following a five year pause they have returned with a shortened band name and their fourth full-length album, "Mannsverk", released through the Norwegian label Karsima Records.
Analysis. One of the standard cliches those who read many music reviews will encounter is the statement that we're dealing with an album of two halfs. An expression that does reflect back to the day of the vinyl LPs with their A and B sides, and one used to indicate that there are substantial differences on an album that, roughly, can be divided into two parts obviously. In this case the first half literally explored out of your speakers. A heavy, distinct and driving bass guitar is a solid foundation, one solid enough to brush aside any brick wall that comes in its way. And of the bass guitar for some reason should find an obstacle to hard, the elaborate, quirky drum patterns, complete with jazz-tinged associations, should hammer whatever gets in the way to smithereens. Sporting intense movements, plenty of delicious keyboards details and a liberal use of psychedelic-tinged guitar riffs, licks and soloing, the first four compositions are at times breathtaking in their sheer intensity. These are very much contemporary creations, ones sporting a high degree of textures and sounds that come with instant associations to the 60's and 70's, mind you. And the production does give the album as a whole a vintage sound, but the songs themselves come across as far more contemporary sounding in terms of structure, development and intensity. As far as associations go, Beardfish’s 2009 album "Destined Solitaire" would be a nice companion piece to this first half of Brimstones's new CD, somewhat similar in scope, approach and intensity, but with many marked differences as well. While the former contains more distinct references to specific bands from yesteryear, Brimstone's latest doesn't, or at least doesn't make them as obvious. Following this fireworks opening half Brimstone decides to tone down the intensity quite a bit, however. The Fixed Wheel is a shorter affair, with more of a pop-oriented sound, and also contains what does sound like a couple of references to the old spaghetti western movies, although I can't say if this detail is of the planned or accidental variety. The Giant Fire is more of a ballad-oriented affair, one with some nice jazz-tinged touches as well as some nifty psychedelic details that give this song a nice 60's-oriented tinge. The massive Sjo & Land is a rather different beast again, this one a lazy, slow psychedelic affair featuring sounds and effects that bring the ocean to mind. Again with jazz-tinged touches here and there, again with liberal use of psychedelic effects, and as this composition unfolds it does take on more of an intense and dark toned atmosphere at times too. The almost ten minutes long This Is the Universe concludes this CD, and does so in a compelling manner. Initially alternating between dampened acoustic-oriented passages and ones with a more distinct and defined vintage progressive rock sound, this creation slowly develops towards the sound and intensity explored in the first half of this albums and then ebbs out on a gentler note again. A song that does take this production full circle prior to the final, satisfying lead out. As far as concluding tracks on an album go, this is an accomplished example of how to do that in a compelling manner.
Conclusion. Psychedelic progressive rock is the name of the game for Brimstone on their fourth full-length production "Mannsverk", an album that consists of vintage instruments and a vintage sound that alongside what I'd describe as a more contemporary production, as far as song structure and arrangements are concerned, ends up as a compelling and sophisticated disc. Personally I noted what to my ears were certain similarities Beardfish’s 2009 album "Destined Solitaire", and in my opinion most of the people who enjoyed that production, will also enjoy this one. Especially if they also might enjoy a band with more of a psychedelic touch, and songs with a generally stronger emphasis on bass guitar and drums.
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