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26.10.2021

FOUR STROKE BARON

Classics

Anmeldt av Eddie Rattlehead
(Prosthetic Records, 2021)

Karakter: 4.5/6

FourStrokeBaron_Classics.jpg As I'm slowly if mercilessly approaching 50 I fondly recall the 80s and early 90s pop music. It seemed so much more genuine, more human, catchier. I honestly don't get the genre (?) today as everything I hear is either a shameless mechanical ripoff of past classics or worse, music, to butcher Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, of robots, by robots and for robots. Could this soulless dross even compete with A-ha, Duran Duran, Tears For Fears, Modern Talking or Pet Shop Boys, to say nothing of Depeche Mode, which is a phenomenon in its own league? These bands provided us with countless vocal melodic hooks which we shall never forget. The Nevadan duo, Four Stroke Baron, knows that which is why they ask "What if we were to infuse these stylings with heavy metal" on their 3rd full length, and "Classics" is the product of this fusion, though, admittedly very rough around the edges, suffering from some inconsistent, or rather, inconsistently engaging, songwriting.

What should not surprise anyone is that, since the album was produced and mixed by the Strapping Young Lad himself, Devin Garrett Townsend, it bears the mark of all his projects, including SYL. What does surprise is the incredible vocals of the single guitarist Kirk Witt, reminiscent of Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith (Tears For Fears), Robert Smith (The Cure), Simon John Charles Le Bon (Duran Duran), Morten Harket (A-ha) and even David "Gahan" Callcott and Martin Lee Gore (Depeche Mode) which make it possible and so effective to infuse the sometimes very heavy metal riffing with the aforementioned 80s/90s vocal hooks while making it sound perfectly reasonable and palatable courtesy of drummer Matt Vallarino. After all, the two men had 7 years and 3 releases (2014 Eponymous Ep, 2015 "King Radio" LP and 2018 "Planet Silver Screen" LP) to practice for "Classics" and that can be heard. In fact, listening to Evergreyish A-ha of the video single "Khera" or Tears For Fears-y favorite"Prostitute Part II: Pretty Woman (Makes Money)" you'd swear those 80s/90s bands had been metal to begin with but you missed it! Then there are tracks like the massively bassy (by whom?) Gojirian and Soulfying 80s Depeche Mode on "October Rust" Type O'Negative stylings (Friday Knight), or the second favorite, Scar Symmetrical Pink Floydian "G.O!" or the djenty "Fear Is The Minkiller" Fear Factoryish "Born Again Idiot" Anthrax with a gentle "The Way" Fastball alternative melody ("Sundowner") where you're surprised it all does come and work together for the listener's pleasure, and these are all the best compositions on this uneven album.

Then there are the oddballs, to me, tracks which could have used more work such as the opening "Radium" which takes forever to unravel but ends just when it starts to get interesting or the extreme and the least catchy "13 Steps To Stockton" which does bear some similarity to Pantera's "13 Steps To Nowhere", perhaps on purpose. While I can appreciate the A-ha moments in "Rolling Gloom1999", the melodeath Omnium Gatherumish overtones in "Coast Of Barbary" and abundant "Dark Side Of The Moon" Pink Floydian psychedelia sandwitched Between The Buried And Me (most notably on "G.O!"), the closer is disappointing, a slowly disjointed emotive teaser that never develops into anything besides a disturbing scream by guest Polish ensemble NXOV in Russian (!) which can roughly be translated "what I've seen, what could it all mean, what I've learned in return" from what I could understand with my rusty command of the language. Perhaps "Russian Thought Experiment" was meant as some kind of epitaph, but it still sticks out like a sore thumb.

To sum up, let me quote my former drill sergeant in Basic Combat Training with respect to rank in file in formation, "Tighten it up, men!" Your 3rd LP is a very good record with some excellent tracks and fantastic production but there's too much air within, around and in between the tracks so, mindful of the fact that this is your 3rd full length, I can't score it any higher.

https://www.fourstrokebaron.com/


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