So if We All Die (Laughing) are you going to deliver a Killing Joke? Well this debut certainly delivers something and behind the mirth we have a familiar face in the form of ex Carnival Of Coal muse Arno Strobl on main vocals, which should make you aware from the off that this is very likely to be on the odd and eccentric side. Teaming up with him we have providing all instruments and some vocals Déhà a Belgium multi-instrumentalist who has appeared in all sorts of acts working in diverse fields from drone, to ambient, black metal, post rock, harsh noise and even reggae. Needless to say this one probably is not going to be the easiest to classify. The pair formed an alliance when they met in Déhà’s recording studio where Arno was recording some guest vocals on Kaotoxin label-mates Eye Of Solitude album Canto III and no doubt met levels of insanity very quickly resulting in this album.
The result is essentially one very long piece ‘Thoughtscan’ weighing in at the 33 minute mark. Surprisingly it was after a couple of listens quite easy to get to grips with and even essentially (as is our must) give some sort of genre compartmentalisation. Lone maudlin guitar takes us in with a strong depressive melody joined by well-defined bass tones and going into a slow burning wailing solo. Interesting and it has you kind of transfixed at what is coming next although you are in no doubt that what is going to unravel will take all the time it needs to do so rather than giving a quick fix. Clean soulful vocals are next and you wonder if this is going to be metal, pop, rock or even goddamn AOR, it is giving little away until a sudden drum thump and piercing scream of angst ridden contempt sees it all opening up. The guitar work and indeed some of the booming growls that the vocals descend into are very reminiscent of Shining Sweden something the duo certainly acknowledge in their brief biographical overview. Fans of dsbm are going to have no problems getting into the textures of this piece at all, it really does deliver things on an emotional level as it goes through bi-polar patches ranging from utter despair and doom and gloom to triumphant invincible rages. One mood pretty much flows into another and after storming away we encounter slow shimmering guitar-work and what sounds like a clarinet briefly etching things with moribund futility.
There’s a very natural feel to the flow of the song, it doesn’t try to pack too many ideas into its frame but progresses with ease never leaving you feeling bored or thinking that things have been overplayed and should have been reigned in. It’s not overly avant-garde or obtuse although it suffers bursts of mania at times as the two vocalists both join in barking and cackling away together with lunacy at their heart. The clean vocals and the melodic interplay are fantastic at dragging you in to their depths and the overall accessibility (which I would not have expected at all) has kept on drawing me back to this.
After all the highs and lows of this track there is a bonus, at least on the first 1000 copies, in the form of a cover of Amy Winehouse classic ‘Rehab’. It seems like a perfect number for the duo to take us through too after all we have been dragged through a somewhat stygian asylum of depressiveness one that drink and drugs could no doubt have been the resultant cause of so drying out is never more necessary. They do so in a sleazy and quite unsavoury way too vocally with the words ‘she kept her pussy wet’ being especially pawed over. It’s almost lounge core with a bit of a rockabilly vibe over the instantly recognisable song as though it has been cannibalised by the likes of Jim Thirlwell or someone and all that’s missing really is Lydia Lunch on backing vocals. It’s a highly enjoyable version and one that leaves you with a big grin on yer mush.
So if you like you depression of Shining with progression of say Green Carnation and the commercial twist of Germ this comes highly recommended.
There’s a link to listening to the whole of Thoughtscan on YouTube too so dig into the darkness and hear it yourself.
(8/10 Pete Woods)