Monday, April 23, 2012
Feuerzeug - Dead Wahines and Tsunamis
Mark my words.
When future music historians look back at the the career of Swiss sci-fi-toned stoner, heavy rockers, Feuerzeug, they're gonna to look at the album Dead Wahines and Tsumanis as the crux point of their career.
Feuerzeug (swiss for the lighter) blew me away with their hyper-charged stoner debut Drive Fast and Crash which I likened to "a herd of a thousand brontosaurs rampaging in your living room." As best I can tell, the whole stoner community got right in line behind these guys, digging the urgency they laid into their riffing, the Motorhead-speed and power, the sci-fi twinges in their guitar tone and vibe. And to be honest, the boys could've gotten away with simply making Drive Faster and Crash Harder, and no one would've complained.
But they didn't.
I don't know if Dead Wahines and Tsunamis is a concept album or not, but the grandness of their scope and vision is readily apparent in song titles like "Cyclops Will Be Beheaded" "Lieuplorodon VS Giant Orthocone," and Magma, Lava, and Burned Karma." Nothing that made Drive Fast and Crash so immediate is missing from this new album, but so much has been added.
If there was one drawback to Drive Fast, it was that the relentless pace and systematic pounding of the riffing made for a rather single-minded listen. It would seem that the boys recognized that, or just felt the natural progression to stretch out more, push the boundaries, play with styles. Create something new.
And they've done just that. Yes, Feuerzeug is on the border of actually becoming a brutally heavy, stoner prog band. And if the musical development that is so apparent on Dead Wahines continues, I expect the next album by these Swiss madmen will be one of the more amazing albums of the decades.
But back to Dead Wahines. "Cyclops Will Be Beheaded" starts things off straight in the Drive Fast and Crash vein. Hyper-intense riffing with that now familiar futuristic-fuzz tone to the guitar whips out in a frenzy of meth-adled acrid smoke. Pounding, and I mean pounding. No one pounds out the riffs like Feuezeug. It's something about the way the guiar, the bass and the drums all attack the song with the same ferocity and timing. It's a thing of power, that's for sure. No languid stoner riff-groove here. Ferocity is the key. "Cyclops" winds through it's 4 minutes with a multitude of riff changes, sideways assaults and full-frontal attacks, and includes a truly memorable chorus that's about as sing-along as stoner metal gets. All of which crashes dead on into "Landkreuzer" another nitro-blast of sci-fi fuzzed riff-abundance. Touches of Monster Magnet in a bloody fistfight with Motorhead reign supreme here. Raw power and froth at the mouth intensity is the order of the game.
All of which is great, but without a change in dynamics, I'd venture to say the album would wear a bit thin on me after a couple of listens. And Feuerzeug know this, as "Landkreuzer" ends with a tasty bit of fuzzed blitzing, "Evel Knievel Had Kissed the Devil" percolates out next. No matter what images that title might conjure in my head, the song was nothing like I expected. Riding a scratchy, near-acoustic guitar riff, the band joins in gingerly, gently, creating something that is almost jazzy in its spartan beauty. The rage and power kick back in at around the 30 second mark, but the riffing is different; more spacious, more room to breathe. Then . . .what is that? A funk scratch guitar? A soulful bass run? A jazzy break? Holy crap! This is exactly what the album needed. A refreshing change in dynamic that doesn't ignore the rage and explosive energy when it ramps up, but knows how to slow down. Toss in a searing, fuzzed out guitar solo and this is the most unique song I've ever heard from the boys. The song builds and falls and rises and crests all the way to the finish.
Where "I'll Scratch Until I Bleed a Flood" picks up, with its terrifying riff cutting through the silence like a scythe. But again, we got something new and totally cool going on here. Staying away from their all out assault and power, the boys play with the balance of restraint and bludgeoning. Time changes. Muted moments of silence. Riff mutations. It's all here with a vocal line that reminds me of The Automatic Automatic of all bands. Cool stuff.
"Nitroghostcar" jumps back into the Drive Fast and Crash blitzkreig vein, which is awesome after the change-up of the last two songs. And just as the title suggests, this is a pedal to the medal, tires smoking drag-race of riffing, a cool twisting guitar solo, and . . what's that? A keyboard center fill? I can't really tell, but it's a nice new texture. "Fusion Van" reimagines Fu Manchu in style and big retro-70's riffing, which blends right into the masterful two part stoner/prog epic "Cruising the Desert." Part 1 races ahead in a mostly straight forward Kyuss attack until the very end, when the pace slows and the acoustic come out which blends right into the sweeping, majestic neo-psychedelic (think Dead Man) Part 2. Like a hot wind blowing across the desert floor, the song floats on the breeze of those acoustics, undulating and drifting in a very prog like passage, until the heat builds back up about 1:13 in. Mountains of heavy guitar descend like a darkened, storm-cloud filled sky, laying down thunder and the rare crash of lightning. A very cool passage and great change up for the album.
"Release the Kraken" takes this new neo-prog direction even farther, traveling through it's 9:48 of heaviness like some demented sci-fi/mythological short story. Probably the most ambitious song I've ever heard from the Swiss men. Walls of fuzz eventually give away to a muted passage of crushing doom-laden riffery and sludge-paced malevolence.
That's enough song-by-song to get a taste of what awaits you. In the end, I still think that Feuerzeug sometimes tends a bit towards a bludgeoning sameness with some of their riffing, but underneath that, there's something really cool going on here. Dead Wahines and Tsunamis sounds like the work of a group that is deciding to collectively stretch themselves out of their comfort zone, and doing it with great success. For that reason, this sounds like a crux album to me. A moment of transition as the band break from the constraints of their past and move into the limitless possibilities of the future.
With that in mind, I fully expect their next album to be a stoner/psych/prog masterpiece of epic proportions.
Mark my works.