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(48:58, MoonJune Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Dead Baby 2:06 2. Deejays Should Have Low Self-Esteem 4:24 3. Eyjafjallajokull 3:16 4. Shitgun 4:21 5. Camera Obscura 6:17 6. Shotgun 3:58 7. Save Us from Bloody Women 1:07 8. Erase Her Dad 3:01 9. A Glimpse into Eternity 4:31 10. Esta Mierda No Es Democracia 3:12 11. I Don’t Wanna See 4:42 12. Black Beetle 7:58 LINEUP: Antoine Guenet – keyboards; vocals Fulco Ottervanger – lead vocals Yannick De Pauw – guitars Wim Segers – vibraphones Simon Segers – drums Dries Geusens – bass
Prolusion. Here is the self-titled debut album by the Belgian sextet SH.TG.N – what an awful name for a musical group, a verbal perversion. How should I pronounce it if I’m not a stutterer? Es-eich-dot-ti-ji-dot-en?
Analysis. It’s hard to believe all this stuff has been written by keyboardist Antoine Guenet (of The Wrong Object fame), as most of it is based on heavy guitars and does not evoke the man’s previous work. There are twelve tracks here, the majority of which range from one to four and a half minutes in length. Six of them, Dead Baby, Shitgun, Camera Obscura, Shotgun, Save Us from Bloody Women and Esta Mierda No Es Democracia, are not much more than traditional Black-&-Doom Metal with an addition of vibes (while the guitar solos are brief and restrained here). The simplistic style of the songwriting married to metallic guitars and quasi-fusionesque vibes causes the material to sound like an odd mixture of Black Sabbath, Bathory and Gong, all at their most prosaic. Well, for what they are the songs would have probably been even fine – if they had featured a professional singer. However, they don’t. Fulco Ottervanger’s screaming-style vocals are ridiculous; his a la theatric narrations sound heavily amateurish. Only his singing on a conventional rock style (often with bluesy intonations), such as on Deejays Should Have Low Self-Esteem, Eyjafjallajokull, A Glimpse into Eternity, I Don’t Wanna See and Erase Her Dad, is acceptable, albeit not always, because he at times goes completely out of tune, the lyrics often dirty and meaningless at once, delivered in heavily accented English. In their turn, the aforesaid five songs are traditional Hard Rock (with occasional donations from the above two genres), from time to time flirting with Space Fusion – save the last of them, which throughout sounds like AC/DC on steroids. The former two pieces are spotted with many different instrumental passages, some of which are effective. As to the others, not that there aren’t minor variations along the way, but the overall arrangements are simplistic, with nothing really to challenge the ear, either in structure or harmonic content. It’s very unusual to realize that the creators of all these things are a band from the roster of MoonJune Records, a label whose previous activity is almost exclusively linked with ‘serious’ genres. The remaining piece, Black Beetle (7:58: the album’s longest track), brings together both the symphonic and heavy kinds of Space Rock, occasionally verging on Space Fusion as well as some electronic stuff. Largely instrumental, this is the only really progressive composition here, albeit it isn’t too original either, most often evoking Hawkwind at various phases of their 20 Century work.
Conclusion. The CD press kit says: “These musicians, while advocates of rock, jazz and classical music, do whatever they want to on their debut album, with no restriction at all, clashing the uniformity of modern music”. They indeed appear as sort of musical hooligans here. Only what for? Bearing in mind that the styles they use are of an extremely different nature, what would be a target audience for the record?
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