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Monday, August 22, 2016

Album Review: Servers – Everything is OK

“Well I know what I just said. For those of you who came with us, everything is OK” intones the voice and just like that this sophomore provides the perfect link to their debut and we’re off.

Having shown us just a glimpse of their new wave leanings on their debut album, Servers have expanded this thread now to include a synthetic swagger that tip-toes between the worlds of dark pop and industrial rock. It has made for a cleaner, more vibrant sound. However, their vast grooves are now less impacting having been flattened to create simpler, more accessible structures that seem over-reliant on a singular hook. Is this a dangerous game they are playing here?

Well, the initial tracks like “Spells” and “My Friends Are Enemies” build from solid bases but do begin to crumble at the point of choral release. The slackening of rhythmic bite in the former track, from those rumbling drums loaded with tribal menace, is certainly an odd experience. The latter track is certainly spiky enough, ripped with dark fizz and a groovy electro-buzz but again the choruses feel slack. There’s definitely a need for them to punch more.

Happily, what follows brings the power. Yes, the bitter and twisted “To Hell With You” and the chant and chop of “Bodies In The Ground” set about revisiting the manic splatter of their debut with plenty of grunt and a vitriolic crush instigated by overdriven guitars. This power surge is ably complemented by some of Lee Storrar’s wildest roars. Acting like a shot in the arm it feels like we’re back on track. By regularly switching tempos, Servers take us on an emotional rollercoaster. “Unconditional” goes completely against the grain of the other tracks, picking up from a ponderous quiet verse to instigate a huge kinetic chorus. There’s a sweet orchestral intro to dissect, an addictive vocal hook and a bouncing heartbeat underscore too.

Then when all seems well, the band start meddling with formulaic pop constructions as “Our Lady Of Bad Counsel”, “I Will Make You” and “Codes” hit. The former drags us kicking and screaming back into the past with bursts of synth and a feisty but simplistic rhythm. It even drops in some driven, upbeat, punk-pop elements. Getting specific, “Codes” is just pure Zoolook-era Jean-Michel Jarre. That repeating beat sampled from a short vocalisation, so familiar, so incessant, smacks into lyrics that slowly recount the putrid stench of murder. Then, they find another gear and bring more orchestral and synth backup into the mix to offer an element of power metal.

By the time you hit the dull, blueprint candy of “I Will Make You”, you’ll sense that something made of purest slate-black evil is at play. The band have lightened the music to use as a tool to fool. Those taped interjections you’re hearing come from media broadcasts and interviews and are revelations from the the minds of deranged cult victims and their instigators. Conceptually and lyrically, it’s a pretty damn wicked and the inference is to play off the light music against the dark wordplay. Have they gone in hard enough though? The delivery does seem to fall short and those gentle suggestions feel too weak. Imagine the mayhem they could have created here. Each psychological exploration could have powered the music, exploded eardrums and bitten down harder. Would it be fair to point out this comes on the heels of Periphery’s truly heart-rending MK Ultra-dissection, Juggernaut?

Look, Everything Is OK is… OK. With its hints of nineties grunge and naughties’ alternative rock scenes, it certainly feels like a step backwards from the punch that so marked their debut. It’s shorn of so much of its sparking emotion. It’s poppier, less vicious, superbly aggressive in spots but even those points weaken the album by highlighting those bits that really aren’t. Hell, there is certainly a dark side to it and the more you persevere and the deeper you sink into it, the more visible its intentions become. “The world has gone to shit” screams the PR blurb, so why doesn’t this album feel like a fair representation of that mindset when to do so was clearly the band’s intention?



Also online @ Ave Noctum = http://www.avenoctum.com/2016/08/servers-everything-is-ok-undergroove-records/
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