Record Swap: Boss the Ross Vs. Karhu
Greetings and welcome back to another edition of Record Swap. In today’s match-up, we have mountain of man-meat and possible Manowar affiliate Boss the Ross facing off against furry welterweight veteran Nordling Rites ov Karhu in what should prove to be a competition of girthy proportions. Will fleshy riffs prevail against sadboy lyrics? Find out below? – W.
Boss’s Assignment: Mokoma – Elävien kirjoihin (2015)
I haven’t been a big fan of Mokoma. Going from a horrible alt rock-band into an iskelmä-ish, thrash- (and Lord knows what else) influenced metal band, they’ve only managed to make a few better songs per album. Or so it was until Elävien Kirjoihin was released this year. Finally they’ve balanced all their influences with consistently good songwriting. Top that with one of the better metal lyricists out there (not that you’d understand a word) writing a concept album about his depression, and you’ve got yourself a gem. – Karhu
Upon receiving my album assignment my first thought was, “what the hell is a Elävien kirjoihin?” Turns out it means “Living Books” in Finnish, and is also the name of an excellent Heavy Metal album. My second thought was, “That is one gnarly looking dragon, but what’s up with those colors?” I don’t have spotify, so off to youtube I went. I found the album on a playlist, hit play and was invited with a delicate clean guitar intro. Honestly, I thought this was going to be a black metal album of some sort. Then the riff hits. Definitely not black metal. Let the headbanging commence. I was immediately digging this. Hard.
Completely floored after the first song, I was eager for the second. On youtube the second song yielded a music video, allowing me to put a face to the music. And then the vocals kicked in. Wait, what? Is this the same band? The shouting harsh vocals gave way to clean singing. Took me a bit, but I grew to like it. The next few songs zigged and zagged, alternating between the clean and harsh vocals. I’m not gonna lie, the pattern bugged me a bit. It just seemed too forced; the songs were good, just not in the order they appeared. Luckily, halfway through the album the pattern was over. But it was followed with, in my opinion, a lull. Songs 7 and 8 just don’t do it for me. It picks back up with the last 3 songs, ending triumphantly with the heaviest song on the album. And holy hell, what an outro. I could not keep my body from moving and my head from banging. YES!
Overall I enjoyed the album quite a lot. My only complaints would be the on/off pattern with the first several songs. Also, I believe the language barrier is the cause of my disinterest in songs 7 and 8. Perhaps understanding the lyrics would help me understand the two songs’ tones. I am definitely a fan though, and will be looking into Mokoma’s discography, perhaps with a Finnish dictionary next time. – Boss
Beargod’s Assignment: Sergeant Thunderhoof – Ride of the Thunderhoof (2015)
I first tasked the Mighty Beargod with a tasty slice of grim atmospheric black metal; much to my dismay, I was informed he had already listened to and enjoyed the album. “Very well”, I said to myself, “time to go in the opposite direction.” With that in mind I chose a tasty slice of psychedelic spaced out fuzz rock in the form of Sergeant Thunderhoof’s Ride of the Hoof, a personal favorite of mine from this year. – Boss
When I first saw the name Sergeant Thunderhoof, I expected either crappy dad rock-revival or equally crappy third-rate stoner. Luckily I got neither, although the latter does come close. Sergeant Thunderhoof is stoner, but it doesn’t fall into any of the three “major styles” within the genre. There’s not the slowburning, heavy as heck groove of Monolord, nor the dirty, sludgy riffing of Dopethrone, nor the airy psychedelia of Acid King. Unfortunately for them, those three are what usually draws me to the genre, and with what is left, they might as well be a third-rate band. But Sergeant Thunderhoof has got few things going on that set them apart. Firstly, even though variation is scarce, it is there. The first half of the album may mostly move on the same mid-paced tempo, a few riffs per song, occasionally settling into a slower groove for a moment, but “Reptilian Woman” is a rocking piece that turns into “War Pigs” worship.Compare those to “Enter the Ziggurat”, the album’s best song, which plays with a calmer mood, almost devoid of the doom. In the long run, both are quite different from the psych-doom that opens the album. Secondly, the band plays well together. They’ve constantly got a good groove going on, no matter what they play. This ought to be a standard, especially in this kind of music, but unfortunately it isn’t. And thirdly, the band doesn’t lock down into one riff or soloing for too long.
Unfortunately, not all the songs work as well. “Goat Mushroom”, despite sporting some good riffwork, goes on for way too long. and the shorter “The Staff of Souls” fails to save the album, despite returning to “Ziggurat’s” mood – too little, too late.
All in all, despite being one of the better bands playing this kind of stoner, Sergeant Thunderhoof is still representative of why I’ve turned my back on the majority of stoner doom altogether. I don’t think I’ll be playing this a lot in the future. – Karhu
Like the evil warlock Neff, Boss the Ross surfaced at the end of the level to steal Karhu’s Spirit Balls. Karhu returned with a furry fury in the final round, though, and rescued Athena from Boss’s hammy clutches. Never fear, friends, for it all turned out to be a play in the end. Whew! Want to get involved in Record Swap? Email me at email@example.com.