06 Feb 2023 - Knut
Heavy Metal | Hard Rock | Majestic Mountain Records | Release date: 13 Jan 2023 | Favorite song: House of Horrors
Put the pedal to the metal and blast off with the vibrant heavy metal thunder from Norway’s Draken.
This is the trio´s sophomore album, and what a ride that is. On their first album, these hard rockers ventured into Stoner, Psychedelic and then some more. On this album, they lash out purified Heavy Metal and Hard Rock, sometimes dipping into Blues, Jazz, and progressive fragments. It is effective and energetic; the music never loses momentum no matter how intricate it is. These are seasoned musicians with a broad musical background and they know to rock you.
They open on a heavy note with the title song ”The Book of Black” and yank you right into their vigorous musical pulse. It is a heavy staccato pulse that loosens a bit with distorted riffing and grooving bass. Harsh, engaging vocals with urgent undercurrents intertwine with the music. There are in fact two vocalists throughout the album exchanging different vocal styles, sometimes using echo effects like during this first song. This is a heavy riffing piece of music if there ever was one at a steady pace fitting for a Heavy Metal song.
They shift gear and increase the pace on the next one, ”Bastards”. It is a Hard Rock song in the wake of Motörhead with urgent duetting strong vocals. The groovy bass takes the lead while the guitar is riffing all the way through until it disgorges a fast swirling fuzzy guitar solo adding to the song´s urgency. Fading in from somewhere, comes the third song ”We Deserve to Suffer” with the engaging bass driving the song forward. This is another assault of hurried Hard Rock with fast drums and cymbals and fuzzy riffs going along with angry vocals in a duet with a deeper clean vocal. The song shifts into a holding pattern with fast drums and a chunky and speedy riff to clear the ground for a slightly messy and jazzy guitar solo.
On ”House of Horrors” the pace is a bit less rushing with an underlying Blues line happening in both, the rhythm section and the guitar joined by clear vocals, sometimes with stretched duets. And that is as it should be as both Hard Rock and Heavy Metal have its roots in the Blues. When a guest musician on an organ joins the sonics, the song gets a whiff of progressive 70s Hard Rock. The song slips into a little breath-taker and then reboots with fast riffing with the organ in the mix. A fast, fuzzy guitar solo is joined by the organ and the soundscape changes to something close to an updated and vibrant version of Deep Purple.
They venture back to the roots of Heavy Metal with ”Symbiote”, but they do it with a twist as the urgent male vocals are joined by a female guest vocalist. In the mid-section they change pace and dip into Jazz mode after another virtuous guitar solo. Towards the end, the song turns back to Heavy Metal once more steered by the bass and drums and riffing guitar.
It is impressive how they have sewn the songs together as we locomote through them and sense that the soundscapes become more and more intense, and dip into anarchistic Stoner style as on ”Devotees of the Faith” where the urgent vocals try to overwhelm the music before it loosens up and the guitar swirls upwards and forwards in heavy staccato riffing with glissading bursts. And there is a sense of haziness on ”Relentless Sinners” driven by the drums and bass and a riffing sub-stream of guitars accompanying the urgent and sometimes desperate shouting vocals. It leads to a psychedelic confused section that pours out an extremely fast guitar solo using the wah-wah pedal for good measure.
The band closes the album with a diverse piece of Heavy Metal called “Bloodguilt”. The song drags itself along slowly with a high-pitched guitar above alluring vocals which become a bit more resigned when the music quiets down a bit. But the urgency is back when the pace picks up a somewhat faster tempo. The song evolves and becomes varied and might point toward what is coming next from the band. It differs in pace with its staccato riffs and grooving bass before loosening it up with a slightly dissonant guitar solo while the pace gets faster and faster with chorus pushing it. It slows down and drags forward on clay feet until it simmers and fades away into echoing nothing.
The music these guys create is invigorating and refreshing as it rushes onward throughout the album. Trust me, their live act is equally vibrant. The cover of the album is also an astonishing work of art. About the title and the song the bassist, Halvor Gaardløs, said in an interview with the Trondheim-based blog, i happen to like ny: ”They take the Bible, the Koran, the Constitution, whatever, who actually all are sources of good, and they turn it into malice. In that respect, there’s many books of black out there.”