Because they for some reason apparently appreciate my stellar taste and judgement skills when it comes to music, people often send me stuff with the message “Hey man, can you give our band a listen and review it for your blog?” Often I’m a bit uneasy about this, as I have prole-ier than thou stance in that I tend not to accept that many freebies to review. I’ve always maintained the idea that you should really be seeking out what you want to talk about, as opposed to just belching out content because bands/labels/PR guys foist stuff on you, etc (Like many other place, Iceland has a perennial problem with conflicts of interest when it come to stuff like this). Also if i turn around and say it sucks, then people seem to get rather annoyed by that. Many assume that by giving me their album out of the goodness of their hearts, it means that I will automatically give it a thumbs up. It´s sometimes more hassle than it’s worth…
But of course I do make exceptions. And when Finnbogi Örn of math/metalcore merchants IN THE COMPANY OF MEN sent me a message asking to review their album, I said sure, why not? They’re a good bunch of guys, and they can lay claim to performing some of the more energetic and generally fucked up gigs I have seen this past year. Plus it was also available for free on their bandcamp.
So yeah, let’s have a look at their album….
(3 weeks and several cans of beer later)
In The Company Of Men, “S/T”
The self titled debut album by IN THE COMPANY OF MEN is likely to be the most fucking annoying, abrasive release you’ll hear from an Icelandic band this year. And i mean that in the best possible way naturally.
So much of it really shouldn’t work. The whole tone of the album can be described simply as frantic, almost to the point of complete nervous exhaustion. Listening to it is like watching that kid that´s completely crack’d out and wound up on sugar, screaming and running around the room in circles till it gets sick and throws up all over itself. Every song is full of constantly changing, jerky time signatures and styles. The first song “Captain Planet,” is a perfect example of this, with a “throw everything into the kitchen sink” attitude on display. A plaintive guitar intro, umpteen breakdowns, time changes pinging all over the place, the singer going “whoo, WHOOO!” half way through, and a turbo polka section (???) complete with sax. On top of all this the guitar sounds aren’t that great, being a compressed mid range squelch (Which I’m taking to be more an issue of recording/mixing), while many of the lead guitar lines aren’t that memorable. Plus, when they do all that screaming/belching vocal fry stuff at the end of songs such as “The Great Red Spot,” I actually burst out laughing at the ludicrousness of it all. Something tells me that this wasn’t the desired response the band were looking for.
But I’ve gotta say this though. Three weeks and several listens after downloading this, I’m still listening to it. Because underneath all the wackiness, there is definitely something going on here. It´s just the sheer exuberance of it all that seems to wantonly fuck around with the programme. Hey, shall we have some skanking in this song? Yeah, why not! And what about this little soft piano interlude? fuck it, let’s put that in there as well! Once you get past the genuine WTF moments, the feeling of everything musically exploding at once in all directions is kinda fun to listen to. There’s a really refreshing lack of ego or angst in this music.
And some of the songs have some really nice grooves. “Steini Milljón,” is probably their most orthodox song that is just really snotty and punky, where there’s an economy in the guitar work, keeping the riffs simple. This means the song works great. Also they get a million points for using a great sample from ‘The Room’ in “Fokk You Randver.”
People will say that they sound like Endless Dark, but I’d consider that to be an insult as (a), they’re way more caustic, entertaining, and less po-faced, (b), they’re much prettier to look at (As in they don’t look like a bunch of milk-fed Igor farmhands who’ve had a makeover by some emocore girls), and (C), NO SHITTY SYNTHS!!
If you’ve never been a fan of the likes of Dillinger Escape Plan or The Mars Volta, then I can safely say that ‘ITCOM’ is probably not going to rock your boat, but I will choose this unorthodox take on metal over some of the more staid stuff that’s been released locally over the past year. A band who are progressing nicely in the right direction.