Get Proggy with Fox Territory and Kairon; IRSE!
I occasionally branch out and find good music outside of the heavy metal category. Sometimes it’s good and sometimes it’s not. It’s best not to stray too far from the herd, and so progressive rock is a pretty safe bet (minus Dream Theater). The bands which fall under the “progressive” category tend to catch my ear right away, but there are a ton of different sub-genres underneath this umbrella, and therefore a million bands to investigate. So let me do the investigating for you and recommend two progressive acts, both heavy in completely different ways:
Fox Territory – Degressive Fusion (2017)
Earlier this month a Czech band called Fox Territory “hand-delivered” some promotional materials to the blog (essentially introducing themselves and recommending somebody check out their music). It was sincere, friendly, and funny; which made a great impression. They’ve got the quality tunes to back it up, so here we are!
Degressive Fusion is a math-core / jazz / instrumental / rock-n-roll good time. One might initially guess we’re discussing an Animals As Leaders rip-off, but that turns out to not be the case at all. These musicians are focused on getting you to bang your head and tap your toes with a constant goal of simply rocking out. They’re quite talented as well, often employing jazz-ier techniques in the song structures and also in the riffs themselves. Often times Fox Territory flirts with speed-metal-esque tempos, for instance in my favorite track “Country Strike” (I mean, there’s a teeny bit of Megadeth in there… right?):
So yeah, moments of speed metal mixed with moments of lounge music; and there’s nothing strange about it. They succeed at this task on every track here. There’s keyboards, occasional vocals, and even trumpets. The guitar work is a little off-kilter, comparisons to Lazer/Wulf, Minus the Bear, and even Yowie would be welcome. But nothing is over-indulged, the mixture of jazz and metal works 100% of the time. I really have to congratulate Fox Territory for making a beautiful, hard-rocking and complex, yet catchy album here. This comes with a serious McNulty Toast of Approval:
Kairon; IRSE! – Ruination (2017)
Do y’all remember how I declared Bandcamp to be the best method of music distribution in all of metal?! Well here is a prime of example of Bandcamp’s social networking power: via the site’s daily e-mail telling me which albums my friends purchased, I noticed that a particularly selective friend had bought two albums from Findland’s Kairon; IRSE! I headed straight to their Bandcamp page and the music that I heard that day was love at first listen. Two of the band’s albums have now comprised about 50% of all music that I have listened to in the past month.
Ruination could be described as a psychedelic trip back to the ’60s, engulfed in a cloud of smoke exhaled by some stoned metalheads. Fuzzy, clipped guitar riffing makes the backbone of this record and clean, jazzy playing provides most of the interludes and improv-like jam sessions. Longer songs like the first two (“Sinister Waters I” and “II”, at 12 and 13 minutes respectively) are where they succeed the most, because they seem to do better when each band member has plenty of time to breathe and exercise those creative muscles. Check out the latter song below and pay close attention to the verses, specifically the key change introduced during the third verse at the 6:10 mark, which adds a whole new dimension of melody:
While Ruination puts its best material forward, the second half is no slouch either; with “Llullaillaco”, a gentle, trippy, reverb-drenched tune) separating the two halves of the record. Following that is “Starik”, which is a rather straight-forward stoner rock song that includes some cool clarinet. Then the final two tracks (there are six total) mark a return to the epic, progressive pieces similar to how it started. If I have to subtract any points — and I’m talking half a star if anything — it’s the uneven distribution of quality: most of the album is fantastic, leaving a few moments of “very good”.
Kairon; IRSE! – Ujubasajuba (2014)
Ha, I tricked you into hearing more of this incredible band! If you enjoyed Ruination (or even if you didn’t), give this a chance and see if it doesn’t change your life like it has mine. Something about their sophomore record Ujubasajuba grabbed me immediately, and it was the vocals. Right when I heard Dmitry Melet’s vocals on the first song I was transported back to 1996 and an album called A New Stereo Sound Spectacular by trip-hop masters Hooverphonic. And then track #2 just solidified what I suspected, it was like I was listening to Liesje Sadonius doing vocals over a really talented stoner rock & psychedelic combination band. Listen for yourself:
This record isn’t as upbeat and trippy as their newest record; and substitutes those feelings with those of melancholy and even some moroseness. It’s absolutely gorgeous, in fact its dark beauty is a lot more welcome from this band than the somewhat happier spin they use on Ruination. Both records are great though, and compliment each other so well. And the jazzy jam sessions are so satisfying, like the one in the embedded track above (that song is just a fantastic representation of the album’s quality). It’s ten minutes of song composition perfection, the way it evolves so naturally through different styles a band like Between the Buried and Me might learn a lesson or two.
It’s a five Flaming Toilet Emoji record, easy. Ruination‘s really good, Ujubasajuba is even better. Stoner riffs, a quirky Finnish approach to songwriting, hippie-inspired psychedelics, and trip-hop vocals on a few songs. To me, there’s just nothing better.
These three records come highly recommended: one by the Czech Fox Territory and two by the Fininish Kairon; IRSE!. Balance out some of the really heavy music with some mind-warping, progressive rock. The former is a very suave and talented take on math rock, and the latter contains just a little bit of old Genesis and old Pink Floyd (best example: “Rulons”). If you dig them, I’ll keep my eyes open for more proggy goodness (but none of the nerd shit).