05 Oct 2022 - Thorsten
Punk, Prog Rock | Tankcrimes Records | Release date: 07 Oct 2022 | Favorite song: Oberon
Okay, eff me! What in the whole effin world can this band NOT do? Effin all they can do, ay! Fucked Up shows once again that there is really no limit to their talent as they give us a bazillion-th version of their skills by releasing Oberon and thence by shoving a really perfect sludge record down our non-expecting throats!
We all remember the days when a band like Fucked Up surprised us with their kind of flashy yet non-flashy, exuberant yet non-arrogant, mega-talented yet not-spoofing mix of hardcore punk and prog rock in a way that not a lot of bands had done this side of Coheed and Cambria and The Dillinger Escape Plan. Fucked Up were somewhere in the middle – highly credible in the punk-realms but also proggish enough to be mentally fitting for Montreux. One can decide where to place the two aforementioned bands in that scenario.
The band never once looked back on their sail around the genre-world, releasing dozens of EPs, albums and more on the way, Discogs is not counting them at a mind-blowing sixteen full-lengths, 61 singles and EPs and numerous compilations, appearances on other releases and all in all a discography rich with credibility in all corners of the music scene. And then comes Oberon and little me thinks “Oh cool, they’re gonna a pretty proggish version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream!” and what do I get? A pure sludge record that even includes some synthwave bits and has seemingly little to do with the king of the fairies but that is out to catch my neck, twist it and, by doing so, break it! Malicious little thing!
Here’s the video for “Oberon”
This is a sludge record is a Fucked Up record is a sludge record is a Fucked Up-sludge record. What that shall imply? Well, listen to the record closely and especially at the a-side with ”Oberon” & “Strix”. Deep behind those Himalayan walls of Louisiana swamp-sound and the rhythm of a ten ton slug sliding down a one inch hill, deep behind all of that you can find some of the little ditties that Fucked Up are nowadays famous for: Some low tuned doom melodies that sound like a cello and then a somewhat twangy Southern solo that tries to disguise as part of the rhythm section.
Interestingly, the EP even becomes a bit lighter from here on out: the second track ”Strix” might be the closest to regular Fucked Up we get on this release, but then again – is there something like “regular” when talking about Fucked Up? However, the fast-paced track with the somewhat English-sounding vocals is spacious synth-rock meeting some noisey riffs and features some really variable drumming by Jonah Falco as if the band gave him this track to show his skills as he was somewhat on a leash during the opening title track. Jonah leads the charge up and down the Appalachian hills on this one and he is a good leader for sure!
And this is the video for “Strix”
Next up is the third track ”Mashhit” and this is some really well-done naming! This track is a perfect mash-up of Fucked Up and synthwave – the vast yet pumping beats and synth passages sound straight from a “How to synthwave for dummies 101” book. But this book is written by a real expert not one of those wannabes who don’t know shit. The way that the riffing is working out to be an elongation of the synths is just miraculous and when the synths regain the spots and meander around a bit – that shows some real songwriting talent.
The last song is a cover of a Camille Saint-Saens track called ”The Aquarium” which is a part of Saint-Saens’ famous Carnival of the Animals and some might know it as an “official source of inspiration” for the opening sequence of Beauty and the Beast. Even in this near-Rachmaninoff-style version of the song it is an enigmatically light thing albeit the heavy riffing. That they choose to do a cover of a classical piece of music on a record otherwise full of dark, deep-tuned sludge and synthwave is not ironic at all, it’s how these Canadians keep a record in balance and the heavenly ending of ”Aquarium” is like a blessing – before one listens to these 21 minutes for another round.
Fucked Up have done it again, they have peeled away a new layer of themselves for us to see what they can do. And man, they sure can do a lot! Or would you have expected them to do a sludge record and end it with a cover of a classical piece of music? Yes? Well, then you just know them better than me! Teach me, please!