Sunday, May 13, 2012
Strage - The Fire in Hell
Formed last year by Brandon van Eeden (ex Crossingpoint) and Jono Harrison (Monkey Slutz), the cerebral South African instrumental rockers have arrived with a mind-blowing debut record titled 'The Fire in Hell.'
I enjoyed every aspect of 'The Fire in Hell.' From tasteful songwriting to practiced execution, this record speaks to my most basic listener instincts. It gives me what I want, but not without a little suspense. These guys are all about the "build up" and really know how to play SLOW. Reminiscences of Pelican periodically flash through my brain as I listen to Strage, but I'm not comparing the two - Strage is something all their own.
For the most part, the songs are about four or five minutes long and cover a lot of melodic ground. Strage is a slower-tempo band. May the Bridges You Burn Light the Way features a clever chorus and 1000 Razors is a good track, too; starting calm and ending HEAVY. The highlight of the record has to be the 12 minute Crawling Towards a Hole, although none of the other tracks are less noteworthy.
'The Fire in Hell' was recorded in a live room with just two mics, giving it an inviting and open quality. At times, they effortlessly marry the disgustingly heavy to something that is painfully beautiful. Thick and warm, high-mid distortion is a requisite for heaviness and Strage delivers. Godflesh tones one minute, then mildly-saturated clean tones the next. The album was expertly mixed by van Eeden himself, so it all works out.
The "build up."
Strage explores various moods and utilizes them to their seemingly measureless potential. They let the riff sizzle and blister over a sobering flame of dynamic restraint - such cohesive instrumentation along with volume control is an identifying marker of good players. All the while, I listen with trepidation until the time comes when they finally let it happen. It's been a while since I've heard something that inspires such active listening as 'The Fire in Hell' does.
This 33 minute audiotrip is available for free on their Facebook page and at http://strage.bandcamp.com/ ;
There you can also purchase a digipack CD version of this impressive debut for $14.
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