Italians Uncontrollable Urge have a good hour to treat us to their “chaotic plot of genres” in which the audience is transported “a parallel dimension where irony mitigates all drama and anger that dominate their music”. Talk of such potential anarchy turns my mind to Akphaezya. The band’s publicity guides us to Mr Bungle and Devo, in honour of whom the band chose a track title for their name. What is certain is we’re taken to an alternative world here.
Time is taken and genre boundaries are indeed broken but not in a haphazard way. In fact steady patience is the order of the day on the relatively normal opener “Your Way to See”. Colourful rock guitar riffs come in. There’s a strong element of post rock/metal, something which binds this work as it starts to break free. The sounds are slightly off, deliberately so. The steady guitar rhythm speeds up. All in all this is a hefty chunk. There’s nothing lightweight about this.
Musical normality ends after the first track. What’s interesting is that there is regular musical form but it’s also like a journey through someone’s unedited mind. Exciting moments appear out of nowhere on “Dislessia Diseidetica”. We encounter Hispanic metal energy on “Sorprendido Por La Muerte” (= “Surprised by Death”). At the same time the dangerous-sounding rhythms have shades of modern black metal. With developing obscured sounds and faint repetitiveness as if of post-metal mantras, it all leads into a chasmic direction of disturbance and insanity. Ephel Duath and Atrox could learn lessons. Screams and anguished vocals accompany the instrumental sub-structures. Did I mention Mr Bungle before? It’s hypnotic in its anarchic way. What it all amounts to is bad dreams, nervous energy and grotesque visions. As this album developed, I started to come to the conclusion that “Dirge” is an extension of Ephel Duath’s “Pain is Necessary to Know”. Agonising cries scream threateningly from the other side of an impenetrable window. In my imagination musical dolls in the toy shop are coming to life. There is no real fluidity but it’s joined together too in its dark and grotesque way.
We are on a journey through the subconscious mind. There is musical form. The deep guitar is lush and mechanical. Did I hear a bassoon? It’s quietly ominous but hardcore-type screams and mechanical rhythms strike up and shift the mood. This is the music of fear. Take your time, guys. That’s the secret. Throbbing industrial noises enter the fray. We’re now on the seventh track “Which is the Colour of Jack’s Pants”. What that has to do with it, who knows? But what has anything got to do with it. The nightmarish fantasy continues relentlessly. The rhythm is purposeful. This is no stroll in the park. Choruses and hooky lines remind us of normality but it’s like being on the inside of a hazy world, rarely looking out or being allowed to look out. And so to “Therapee”. We hear more throbbing noises and an irresistible rhythm to boot. It’s almost normal, and then there are the vocals. Regularity is in the background – that’s what’s so disarming – but the screams of anguish and suffering tell a different story. It changes and in fact it now sounds like the start of an episode of “Starsky and Hutch” but with inexplicable harshness superimposed and repeated over and over. It’s kind of progressive and most certainly experimental thanks to its strange and focussed form. I reckon the monsters from outer space have invaded our minds. We all need “Therapee” after this. Then a masterclass in psychedelic distortion follows, drums kick in, and it gets going again to the sound of universal suffering. The repetition and soft guitar keep us on track. Funky tones emerge. This is the rocking “Into the Wild”. Have we been allowed to escape? Exciting instrumental sounds rumble in the background. This is a surprisingly classic ending to an album which sends all over the place.
“Dirge” is a highly original work and while entrenched in the world of the bizarre and alternative and inevitably inviting comparison, stands out on its own. Hypnotic, nightmarish and musically profound and intriguing, it captured my warped imagination. It may fire yours too.
(8.5 / 10 Andrew Doherty)