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STRANGEWAYS
STRANGEWAYS
Rotting Under The La La Bombs
(Orgasmatron Records)
46:34min

STRANGEWAYS is the experimental Metal project born from Avi Caspi, an aspiring conductor and video artist Yossi Darmon, who, for the most part, share the vocal, guitar and bass responsibilities on this album. Drums were covered by Nir Nakav of Isreali Death Metal band, SALEM. Their manifesto explicitly states that the music is not meant to be political and I find that this is an excellent and challenging position to take for a number of reasons. It's easy to reduce everything into a sociopolitical scope and to, in turn, view all byproducts of certain nations through this same stupid lens. Even as I write this, I am gritting my teeth not make light or even mention the recent "hummus boycott" currently causing a stir...(see? Stupid politics*) but then this wouldn't be about music. More importantly, this wouldn't be about Metal. "Rotting Under The La La Bombs" is Metal no matter what cultural scalpel you use to dissect it. As their manifesto boldly declares,"Israel holds in it a variety of fears, so many – sometimes it is almost impossible to grasp that it is a soil humans habitate". This attitude is one of necessary reduction, a sense of purpose for the music to serve as a crucible to eradicate the unnecessary layers with which we often tend to view music and art. Metal is confrontational and offers an ideal means for getting this point across; it conveys these deep-seated fears in its abrasiveness and difficult realities with its vehemence. It's not hell bent on giving you speeches or telling your stories, but rather it embodies the uncertainties of the world that forged it, turning wariness into strength and bringing clarity to irrationality. The result is a powerful one and this album is worth enjoying and examining. STRANGEWAYS, just barely refers to themselves as Black Metal, and I would say there are definite aspects present, yet where they should truly be defined is in the vastness of their compositions. "Licking The Pussy Of Mother Earth" opens the album with a strong and dramatic arrangement that is relentless throughout the track. Pummeling drums blaze the trail for chugging breaks and symphonic eruptions that turn into full on explosions with the vocals at various points. The guitars and tempo changes in this song are dizzying offering up moments of both disorientation and climactic clarity. To say it is powerful would be an understatement as this impeccable mix allows for every aspect of this intricate songwriting to come alive with equal vividness. It's a kind of compositional tension that helps to enhance the more abrasive qualities of the music. The use of sound bites and clips offers even more to this concept as they serve both as standalones as well as contributing to more layers within the mix. "Licking the Pussy of Mother Earth", for example, opens with a sound clip I wish I could translate, but even without knowing what it means, it seems to anchor the music into a point in time, not necessarily chronologically but technologically as a general "age of the broadcast" so to speak. If the production quality wasn't enough to clue you in, these various sound clips provide you with the dose of realism not found in a typical Black Metal album; while you can listen to many and pretty much get an ambiguous 90s cassette vibe, STRANGEWAYS is almost certainly appealing to some sort of media age, something more current as opposed to that Black Metal feeling of avoidance relegated to chants of the ancients and cold basements. The high-pitched sound of a tuning radio interjects at various points in the rest of this first track, which solidifies this present era vibe, though it does so subtly. 'BloodRedArt' features a lot of unique transitions using similar effects; this time, an under-painting of deep echoed vocals come to an abrupt halt as the track appears to skip incessantly, exactly how a CD would. At first, it will seem like a glitch in the song, until the main vocals return on top of it for a few moments before opening the gates for the rest of the song to continue. The glitchiness of this track continues a little after, again providing that sense that they're not trying to hide their status as a contemporary band in the digital age. The song eventually dissolves into various guitar feedback and distorted vocals that almost seem to chant as the only phrase that becomes audible is "reverse it, play it faster" before some dreamy guitars usher in the song's finale. Again, the song's composition is unpredictable, almost nebulous. The modern aspect of their sound is reiterated in 'Manifesto', where faint, tension-infused music is tethered by the sound of someone typing on a computer keyboard before a refreshing and unexpected, somber piano composition played by Caspi. The keys of the computer continue while Caspi plays those on his piano in what I'm sure is an intentional juxtaposition of classical and modern. Such contrast becomes even more extreme with 'Wagner Is Power', a hard-hitting collage of a song centered around spliced news clips, sound bites of women crying out and sirens whirring. These clips continue even when the band begins playing, what I consider, a kind of empowering song. While I'm on the subject of power, the aptly named 'A Song To Remember' serves as an example of this band's strengths firing on all cylinders (much like the first track, in my opinion). It holds nothing back, the bass is more audible and perhaps its most overt feature is that is blisteringly and unnervingly fast, and not just in that Black Metal wall of sound way, but rather that despite its speed, you can hear every single detail. This reaffirms the exceptional quality of this production and how well it matches with the intentions of this unique band. As evident in their Manifesto as well as their music, a lot of thought has gone into this execution and the band appears to want to convey something more with their music, mainly through it's physical characteristics as opposed to transmission through lyrics and messages. This is all the more reason to be intrigued and tickled at the band's decision to play extreme Metal; while many are quick to only notice it's abrasiveness, there is an oft unaccounted for depth to this music that's only more rewarding, more poignant once you discover it. www.strangeways-am.com, www.facebook.com/pages/orgasmatron-records/195505510495725

Angelica Jannone

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