The beautiful country of Norway is mostly know for the fantastic scenery, amazing fjords and high priced alcoholic beverages. Musically there also is a lot to explore; from the early brutal death metal of Mayem to the brilliant fusion guitar of Terje Rypdal. Seven Impale's music lays far away from the death metal stuff, but has the experimental aspects of Norwegians star guitarist. They even go far beyond imagination, blending King Crimson's technical skills with Frank Zappa freakiness and adding the power from their landsmen Motorpsycho and Shining.
Contrapasso is the second outing after their 2014 debut; City Of The Sun (2014, see review), an album that was highly regarded and ended up in the Top Ten of ProgArchives.com in the same year. Consisting of the brothers Fredrik Mekki Widerøe; drums and Benjamin Mekki Widerøe; sax, guitarist Erlend Vottvik Olsen, keyboard player Håkon Vinje, bass player Tormod Fosso and vocalist, guitarist Stian Økland the band has remained with a steady line up. In the two years since their debut, the music has evolved to an even more complex and varied collection of songs. The influence of electronics has grown and Stian Økland's vocals cover about everything from Mike Patton to Jim Morrison. The compositions are quite complex, take Languor as an example; this seven and a half minute killer opens with a guitar riff, Leprous style, but within two minutes the song shifts to a smooth sax driven psychedelic part, where the vocals are amazing, halfway through the song the mood changes to electronic space rock with Zappa references, to end with an instrumental Panzerballett-like part. This complexity basically goes for all the compositions on the album as so many things are happening that it will take you at least three or four spins, to notice all the delicate changes and twists in Seven Impale's music. The structured chaos during Convulsion is amazing and creates a special atmosphere, while the following Helix has a much more mellowed down, dark sound. The final track Phoenix blends everything we have heard during the previous songs to an extraordinary self-created galaxy of sound.
When you like the experiment and the aforementioned bands and musicians are amongst your favourites, you definitely have to listen to this very special album. When you expect catchy tunes and lyrics to sing along with, you'd better listen to the album, before buying. Zappa fans will love this album for the variation and weirdness of the music.
***+ Pedro Bekkers (edited by Robert James Pashman)
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