Well, that’s new. A press info that starts with a quote from Shakespeare’s Hamlet. If I now go on ranting about the quote, just remember that you went there first and don’t blame me for taking the bait. I’m a literature geek. It’s irresistible.

“To thine own self be true.”

Apparently, Ribozyme (from Norway, not Denmark) have taken the above to heart from their very beginnings in the late 90s. Only what is it supposed to mean in the context of music?

Maybe the band are trying to say that they are proud of having stuck to their own kind of music, proud of not having done what everybody else does. Having browsed through their older material, I can confirm that they’ve always stuck to hard rock. So far, so good. If you add the adjective “progressive” to the aforementioned genre, you’ll get a pretty good description of the band’s sound. As far as I can tell, they really have never gone near stoner rock, sludge or doom, neither near Black Metal nor Viking Metal (they are from Norway, after all).

But what else is implied in the quote? Maybe that you shouldn’t copy others in what you do, that you should aim for being original? Well, that’s a completely different department and quite an ambitious goal. Hard to uphold, too. And that I can’t confirm.

Established in 1998, they sound a lot like bands that were popular during the 1990s. The adjective “progressive” wasn’t so common then, but there where bands around that had the sound. The first band that came to my mind when I listened to Ribozyme’s new album Argute is Only Living Witness (Prone Mortal Form, Century Media, 1993). A short-lived project and not all that well known, but I was quite fond of it. I haven’t thought of that band for decades. I didn’t even know I remembered them. But when I listened to Ribozyme’s Argute, they immediately came to my mind. While Ribozyme’s production is clean, even polished, OLW’s is anything but, however, there are definitely similarities in the structure of the songs and the overall sound. The other band I had to think of is Filter, a much more commercial-oriented outfit. And that about sums up the dilemma I see with this kind of music, oddly represented by the undefinable object on the album’s cover: The music is probably too heavy for your average customer, and to tame for a metalhead. It’s somehow neither here nor there.

There is also a third possibility regarding the meaning of the quote: Maybe the band are being ironic, maybe they are taking the piss out of themselves. Shakespeare was certainly very fond of both, irony and taking piss. Often, characters mouthing the most moral things, are in fact the most immoral. Polonius from Hamlet, who says the line above, might fall into that category. So, was the quote used with tongue in cheek? Are they saying that they have neither stuck to their own kind of music, nor done their own thing, because that’s basically impossible to do? I’m afraid not, because the rest of the press info doesn’t have an ironic character. Would have been cool, though.

To be fair, I have to say that Argute has a couple of good tracks, namely the second one and the last one, Haunted A Minute Ago and Plasma. But two solid tracks don’t make a good album.

(6/10 Slavica)