Sunday, April 21, 2013

From Russia with Love: 208 Talks of Angels

6 months ago I got a very polite Facebook message on our page from this band asking us to consider playing them on the station.
I have to admit that so much was going on with all of the fallout of the the server and licensing changes that I never clicked on the link.
I am an asshole and I apologize.
No, seriously.
I am not saying this just to be polite.
I have a metal-head/rocker streak.I also like Industrial and Classical music as well.  I also have had many metal-head friends who have a greater appreciation for good music than most music snobs-mostly because the get how hard some 'Metal' bands work to be great.
Even on top of that there are many things that make this band unique.
First is the fact that even though they aren't much like anything on the station- they belong here.
I think the closest thing we have is Soundgarden and Monster magnet.
The difference with this band is that they play music that easily falls into the 'metal' category but also falls into about a dozen other categories as well.

     If you just look at the surface of this band, they seem like any Euro/Industrial/Metal band with influences like the Scorpions and  Metallica and  reaching for Bach, Mozart, and Rachmaninov.
If you scratch a little deeper they reach into places like Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Einsturzende Neubauten, and every classical composer that influenced metalheads everywhere.
What I  really like about this band is their classical influences and how they handle them.

When 'Metal' was much bigger in past decades there were many bands who learned massive amounts of technical riffs and incorporated classical music idioms into their work. Often this was done with stunning technical virtuosity that lacked understanding of the underlying emotional content of the influences referenced.
In short: A whole shit-ton (yes, actual unit of measure) of metal bands busted their asses learning the technical part of their classical influences and lost a huge part of the whole classical/technical experience.

One of the reason huge symphonies are still popular is the same reason people love seeing a good metal band: The ability for a group of people to shake you to your foundation on a very physical level by putting up a wall of sound that could crack concrete but bring it down to the point where you are straining, leaning forward in your seat to hear the last few quiet notes.

With most 'metal' bands you get more of the massive shaking and less of the quiet. With a symphony, you lose the top-end of volume that can crack your skull.
Often a symphony lacks the small-band intimacy of 4 or 5 people with amplifiers.
A small band often lacks the control of a Maestro and the subtleties of ancient, handcrafted acoustic instruments.
Both are not mutually exclusive if you really work at it.

If you really know what you are doing and really care, you make the best of either situation.
208 Talks of Angels smashes all of that into a package that you could listen to at the coffee house, blaring out of your custom-made Blaupunkt stereo in a 911 racing recklessly through the Alps, or in you headphones on the bus on your way to work, safe in the realisation that most of these fools aren't getting the massive dose of culture you are.

This band just took all of these influences and then took all of their best subtleties and turned them into an album that, listening to it on a computer, at low volume, I can hear more than I usually hear at a symphony or a rock concert.

I will say this as well: Even though the band is just great...a great job of writing good songs, a great job of practicing- they obviously spent a HUGE number of hours arranging and mixing. Even on my cheap computer speakers all of the parts seem to chime out into my office in the exact right place and time. Even through bad speakers it seems 3-D.
Yes, that is a lot of compliments, if you don't respect metal and industrial, you might not get this band...but, if you do, I think you will be digging this for a while.

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