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(41:00, ‘Progressive Music Management’)
TRACK LIST: 1. Maniac Freak Machine 5:12 2. The Jaws of Progress 4:46 3. The Power of Negative Thinking 6:49 4. Klusterphunk 7:17 5. South of Heavy 6:20 6. Skull Shatter Stomp 6:13 7. Sinburn 4:23 LINEUP: Chris Rodler – guitars, bass Brett Rodler – drums Mike Ohm – guitar
Prolusion. The US outfit RAZOR WIRE SHRINE issued its first album "Going Deaf for a Living" back in 2004. At that point in time the band consisted of brothers Chris and Brett Rodlers and explored a style they have described as Rush on steroids. After this initial effort Mike Ohm was added to the line-up, and the band has had a planned evolution of its stylistic excursions. The result of these alterations was made available to the public at the very beginning of 2009, when they released their sophomore effort "The Power of Negative Thinking".
Analysis. A very brief description of the music served on this disc is jazz-tinged metal, with extreme tendencies. A peculiar stylistic blend at first made popular by the legendary US band Cynic some 15 years ago. In the case of Razor Wire Shrine the similarities with the aforementioned outfit end with that description though, first and foremost because this is a purely instrumental outfit. Cynic added additional dimensions to their forays with the contrasting vocal elements of guttural barks and clean stylizations, while this outfit is content with their instruments alone to provide their audience with the fruit of their creative labors. For such a venture the guitar will obviously be a dominant instrument. And while the lighter, jazz-tinged passages on this effort can remind one of acts such as Rush and King Crimson, the former in sound and the latter in expression, it is the metal aspects of their sonic output that dominate this production. And the dark, brutal, distorted guitar sound used for these sequences strikes me as pretty similar to one of the legendary extreme metal bands of the ‘80s, namely Possessed, in particular the sound it explored on its first effort “7 Churches”. Razor Wire Shrine members are much more sophisticated and capable as musicians and composers though. In both the lighter and the brutal excursions a fair share of dissonances are utilized to good effect, what sound like pretty technically challenging parts pop up on a regular basis, and each of the tracks twists and turns with multiple changes in pace, theme and style. The musicianship is undeniable on this album. All tracks have a fair share of interesting as well as intriguing themes and parts, and I tend to like dark, dispassionate atmospheres of the variety this band specializes in. But I'm not a big fan of multiple repetitions of themes, especially when the alterations are few and far between and the themes in themselves are relatively brief.
Conclusion. "The Power of Negative Thinking" is a good example of instrumental extreme metal with a few select yet constant forays into lighter, jazz-tinged territories. While arguably not being the most innovative band exploring this stylistic category the music is challenging, the musicians are capable instrumentalists, and there is a fair share of good ideas to be found on all tracks. All in all, this is a very good effort, but without the minor details and finesse to make it a true masterwork, hence the rating.
OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: January 19, 2010
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