November 27, 2006

CD Review: Vampire Mooose - Serenade the Samurai

This review is about to start with a cliche, as I am sure just about every other review for this album will have something similar near the opening. Yes, the band name is correct, three o's and all. Why? I don't know, but it is just the start of what sets this band apart from the crowd of unknown death/thrash/progressive/extreme/(blank)core bands around. Now, that isn't to say they are better than all of the other wannabe next big things, but there is much more to them than meets the eye.

My first thoughts as the first track, "Portuani," emanated from my speakers were along the lines of "why should I bother with this, loud guitars, unintelligibly growled vocals. Just like everything else." or something along those lines. It is sometimes hard to capture those first reactions in words as they more often resemble stream of conciousness nonsense, which may be more apt than you would think. This band does seem to build off of a planned stream of conciousness base, as the music strikes me as pre-planned and fine tuned into a system of musical chaos. How progressive.

I received the CD in a plain, white paper envelope. I took it out and saw the band name and album title. Curiously, I slipped the disk into the CD player and pressed play, then those first reactions sprung haphazardly into my mind. Never having heard of them before, I was not prepared for what came out. The more I listened the more I heard the intricacies of the drums and guitar segments, as the seemed to spiral to brink yet hang on and ride the adjoining edge of a multitude of genres to interesting effect. If I had to criticise them, it would have to be the effects driven to extreme unintelligibility of the vocals. Frankly, I do not find them all that interesting, and they do not seem to be much different than some of the lesser extreme metal acts. I always wondered why some bands did that, was it to cover up the fact that they don't have a suitable singer, choosing to hide behind screams, growls, and an effects rack to get by? Whatever the true reason is, it isn't enough to make this band any less worthy of your attention as the music quite good.

This album is supremely heavy and percussively driven. The drumming is spectacular, it sort of reminds me of Strapping Young Lad. Even the guitars have a strongly percussive element to them, before they belnd in a little bit of melody. The style is all over the place, but somehow theymanage to keep everything on the rails. Everything is lead by Eric Baudendistel's maniacal drumming. The complexities keep everything interesting, always moving and shifting, never letting you get a handle on what they are doing.

Vampire Mooose is a band that refuses to fit anywhere nicely. They will not go quietly into night of an attached label. The music moves in waves, shifting tempo, genre, pretty much everything. Just when you think you are getting close to understanding it, it all goes out the window as something new crops up.

Serenade the Samurai could be the beginning of something big. They seem to relish the quirky side, evidenced by their choice of band name (and spelling) and album title. The music backs up anything they may want to do, let them be as strange as they want to be, so long as the music continues to deliver what they promise with this album.

Bottomline. Very impressive. Musically this is a band to keep an eye on. I was able to look past the vocals, and even like how they add to the songs, but with a different style singing, this band could move on to the next level. This is definitely worth looking into. It is strange enough to stand out, and skilled enough for it to deserve to stand out.



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