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Album Review: TBA

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Album Review: One-Way Mirror – Destructive By Nature

Hands up who likes cheese. We all like cheese, right? We have our favorites too, possibly a mature Cheddar, a gooey Brie, some holey Emmenthal or a few slices of burger-lovin’, good-old processed American. The stuff is so moreish it deserves its own food group.

When it comes to music though, if it’s cheesy there’s plenty of folks are gonna turn their noses up and walk away. Perhaps, it’s their die-hardened old school, true or cvlt moralistic standpoints, perhaps it’s the fact that cheesy music tends to come with a whole charade of gimmicks that puts them off (e.g.; bands that wear coordinated outfits or those that sell weird, often vaguely pornographic, merch), or perhaps they’ve been burned in the past by former musical loves turning bad on them. They may even have had a sense of humor bypass. Me, I love cheese and think it’s almost essential to have a couple of cheesy bands in your collection. Hell, stick on some lounge or some nu-metal and you’ll find me swinging from the nearest obscenely-ornate chandelier.

This, naturally, brings me to the enigma that is those crazy Frenchmen . Having previously reviewed the band’s eponymous debut, I thought I knew what was coming with their latest effort, but was a little shocked all the same. With Destructive By Nature, there’s still plenty of cheese on show here – even that sumptuous artwork looks like squeezy-cheese. It’s a veritable smorgasbord of the stuff; a pastiche of yellows, off-whites and blues; a cloud of faint aromas that suddenly burst into noxious whiffs. It’s heavier than before and they’ve most certainly expanded their overt range of production and post-production techniques. The whole focus here is on the incredible diversity of vocal styles booting you regularly in the ears ranging from single, double and treble-layered vocal, gang and crowd chants, obscured sections, electronically-tweaked gargles, fuzzed bits, bass-boosted parts, grunts, screams, cleans and scratched on/off versions. Trust me, if you had a you’d want to have it in their studio, so you could, without hurting the bands feelings, pull the kind of incredulous faces you will be pulling when you hear this. It’s along the lines of getting chewed on by for doing a impression.

Take the opening few bars of the album as an example. Put simply, they use it to introduce themselves. Literally. The kick-drum pads out the timing… “One!” (crowd roar) “Way!” (crowd roar) “Mirr-or!” (crowd roar). Cue big electronic sample and in bursts Rouxel’s full drumkit. Cheesier than a ball of edam. Oh, and they’ve got a press release to match – “This album is not unlike shrapnel as it will embed itself in your system upon explosion. Some songs will make the fans bang their heads while others will simply decimate them altogether”. A wonderfully ludicrous claim and, I’m sorry, but I beg to differ.

This all feels like a bit of a step backwards. I kept listening for the addictive qualities that tracks like “Destination Device”, “As You Are Now”, “Empty Spaces” or “Sockracer”, from their debut, had in spades. That “stand up and pump your fist” hook or the “sing your heart out” anthemic lyrics to kick in, but I kept coming up with shoulders shrugged and bottom lip protruding. The groove through tracks like “Face To Face” and “Straight Into The Wall” have a sinister underbelly but there’s just no firey contents inside whilst the stinging bitchslaps of “Soupracer” and “Deadly Shores” is all fire and no subtlety. It’s almost like, by creating reverberating highly-strung walls that dive into charred chugs and by boosting Perdicaro’s rumbling bass-drive, they’ve lost the ability to punch out kick-ass lines to go with it. The verses are virtually obliterated by theatrical posturing and there’s no simple-structured switch up from there, meaning that the choruses come and go without sticking in your noggin.

They do have a bit of a crack at mixing it up. The uber-heavy thrash that blisters the surface of “Wasted Years” is a welcome addition, there’s a memorably pained howl in the verse of “Inner Symphony” and there’s a couple of sweet soaring choruses in “Unexpected” and “Made In Vain”, where their softer side comes through. Sadly though there’s just too much overlap and too much filler here. It’s a shame as they suckered me in with their yummy debut, where the contrast between rough and smooth, hook and drive, was pretty much bang on. If you’re new to OWM then, remember, the whole thing takes some getting used to (and this certainly improves with age) but if there’s nothing that grabs you on that first spin, it’s unlikely you’ll return for another nibble.

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