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(78:59, Musea Parallele Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Three Quarks for Muster 6:26 2. Inverted Implicitness 4:41 3. The Sickness onto Death-I 4:37 4. Basic Inceptisol 5:31 5. Drakes Equation 10:29 6. Marihuana by Night 6:28 7. The Salesmen Are the Real Whores 7:02 8. Xenophobia 5:31 9. Internal Combustion 6:14 10. Deep Fringe / Campfire Caboodle 5:29 11. The Sickness onto Death-II 6:46 12. Tautological Torment 9:45 LINEUP: Paal Granum guitars; keyboards; programming Tom Simonsen guitars; vocals; programming Bert Nummelin drums
Prolusion. The Norwegian band ITS THE END consists of three musicians who have been working together for a number of years in different bands and constellations, playing jazz, classical and various forms of rock music. For some time they had assembled compositions that didn't fit into their existing projects, which eventually lead to the formation of this new venture. It's The End were signed by the legendary French record label Musea Records in 2009, who subsequently issued the band's self-titled debut album on their division Musea Parallele.
Analysis. It's The End cites artists as diverse as Allan Holdsworth, King Crimson and Meshuggah as some of their major influences a diversity in expressions which is easily found on this album. In fact, this production is probably one of the best examples I've encountered so far of the description "everything but the kitchen sink". There's such a breadth and width of sounds and atmospheres to be found on this disc that quite a few listeners might be left somewhat flabbergasted. The best overall description of the musical contents is challenging complex, quirky and daunting as well, but first and foremost challenging. The compositions are ever-changing affairs, and can go from brutal heavy riffs to gentle jazz-tinged moods in a split-second, seamlessly and smoothly evolving from one contrasting sound to another pretty often moving or morphing from one thematic construction to another that in some manner represents a contrast. From sparsely textured segment to richly layered ones, from straightforward passages to quirky and complicated ones, from arhythmic and dissonant to rhythmic and harmonic, to mention a few examples. The band prefers their themes to naturally develop from one expression to the other, hardly ever inserting breaks as an effect to create a rapid or dramatic shift in style, which is impressive, especially as some of these efforts do sound like they have quite a few more or less improvised segments. As one might surmise by looking at the song titles and the band name, the overall mood explored is on the gloomy side. Although light, melodic themes do pop up on occasion they hardly ever stay that way, evolving into dark and often sinister territories. Sickly sounding keyboard textures and decaying, fragmenting instrumental movements seems to be something of a speciality for this act, with frequent use of disharmonies and dissonances to underline the emotional associations. And with an album clocking in at close to 80 minutes in length, exploring this disc from start to finish will be a taxing musical experience for many listeners, even those accustomed to artists exploring similar musical landscapes. Like many other albums of the more adventurous kind, this is a slightly uneven effort. Some of these experimental creations are truly brilliant escapades, while others come across as slightly flawed. The latter, however, often consist of many good ideas, even if the composition as a whole may leave a bit to be desired. As a listener, I did feel that on occasion the band experimented just for the sake of doing so, without taking their construction any further so that the development became circular or were taken to a standstill, never progressing towards a more or less logical conclusion. Other listeners may feel that just these compositions represent the best points of this CD though, so, rather than stating this as a universal truth, I'll leave that as the experience of this specific listener only.
Conclusion. If you love complex, challenging and adventurous instrumental progressive rock, and the thought of a band that visits more stylistic expressions on one album than others do in a lengthy career sounds intriguing, It's The End is the band (and album) made to cater for your particular tastes, especially if you regard dark atmospheres and sinister moods as positive facets to such excursions.
OMB=Olav M Bojrnsen: March 7, 2010
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