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Saturday, March 24, 2012

Album Review: Arenna - Beats of Olarizu

Every now and then, on rare and unforeseen occasions, an album comes along that can only be characterized as special, something that is truly one of a kind in some way. It doesn’t have to be totally original, although it certainly can be. It doesn’t have to exclude derivation, although there just isn’t much that hasn’t grown from some established entity in some way. It doesn’t have to be perfect or fit into any preconceived mold or genre, though it most likely will. It doesn’t have to be the epitome of high art, expressing some earth shattering, mind bending, paradigm shifting approach never before heard or experienced, but instead often it will be special by presenting a new take on something old, using familiarity as a springboard for recent revelations in presentation or execution, a heretofore undiscovered branch of a familiar limb on a favored tree.

But even that is not enough to make a claim of distinction. It must also be honest in its offering of music, wholehearted in the master manipulation of strings, sticks, and chords, exhausting the effort taken to capture each song in order to present them to the world, leaving nothing half done in execution or intent, because skill and effort are each equally admired by those for whom these little nuggets of musical specialness are intended.

Special albums like this quite often come out of the blue because there is typically no formula for when inspiration hits, no tracking of the perfect set of conditions that coalesce into an opportunity that arrives at the front door of preparedness.

Enter, then, out of Spain’s Basque region, Arenna’s debut album “Beats of Olarizu”, an album that can quite comfortably be classified as special, as having gone beyond established genres with intensity of effort, sounds full and rich, an explosion of distortion, amplitude of volume, and sheer magnitude of fuzz, orchestrated for an all out assault on primal pleasure centers where no manner of anticipation or conditioning will have prepared the senses for the unrelenting perfection from start to end of this meticulously well crafted collection of high octane guitar riffs, full and rich vocals, canorous hooks, and trippy, psychedelic odysseys to stoner ecstasy.

The album consists of 6 beautifully crafted songs, each wonderfully constructed with purpose and intent, muscular in delivery, and near genius in construction, lasting several minutes each, ranging from five to twenty steady, hard driving minutes. The songs each tend to lead the listener on a journey exclusive to that individual track while lending itself to the whole of the tale rendered on the entirety of the album.

The journey begins fittingly with “Morning Light”, a song that wastes no time in announcing the power used in the delivery of tone with a huge explosion from the guitars, backed by the large and steady rhythms of bass and drums, paced beautifully by vocals both rich and purposeful. The song changes tempo and intent at appropriate times, never leaving you wanting more or wishing for an end, supplying loud and luscious solos at just the right times.

Classic stoner riffs are immediately heard on “Receiving the Liquid Writings”, but in a manner rarely if ever heard in intensity and intent. The guitars here are powerful and purposeful, erupting often in the signature sounds of stoner rock, unrelenting in their down tempo execution, and setting the pace for both rhythm and vocals, both of which display wonderful ranges of dexterity and aspiration.

Next up is “Fall of the Crosses”, more up tempo than the previous selections, but just as feral in full out guitar riff delivery, and melodious vocal machinations. In fact the vocals on this song are more active than on the previous two renditions, creating a wonderful arrangement in which guitar and voice blend expertly for a heavy handed delivery of harmonious delight, with individual interludes from each of the instruments that lead into a wonderful up tempo rendition to close out the song.

A journey into the depths of high intensity fuzz that will ultimately last twelve minutes begins with a prelude of simple instrumentation on “Eclipse”, a strumming of guitars and light tapping on the traps, creating a beautiful and insightful foray that is interspersed with more insistent exaltations before returning for a brief time to the pleasant tones heard at the onset leading ultimately into another exciting, powerful, sinewy rendition from the power center of guitars and full out vocals. We are led in and out of idyllic offerings and D Day invasions, creating a wonderful tapestry of diversity and uniqueness, satisfyingly rich in the varying styles from start to finish.

“The Strangest of Lives” evokes the sound of the sea, of wind and rain, of cold, driving power against dark and prevailing forces that are insistent and compelling. Vocals here are rich and full, driving the song along a grim and incessant path that rolls along on a journey through periods of unrelenting and hard driving guitar hooks, until delivering the final outcome with vigor and vehemence.

The final offering is a twenty minute odyssey of psychedelic fuzz delivered with such fierceness and joy as to leave you both wanting more and assuaged from the bitzkrieg attack on the senses and the soul. “Metamorphosis in lc(0.9168 g/cm3)”, a reference to water organizing into crystalline ice, could well be the epitome of what stoner rock could and perhaps should be. The tempo, the riffs, the overall driving aspect of this song make it worthy of inclusion into that place reserved for the very best of what rock has to offer.

The vinyl version of “Beats of Olarizu” includes 3 extra tracks, one of which, “Pain Eraser”, is a hidden track at the end of “Metamorphosis in lc(0.9168 g/cm3)” on the digital version. The other 2 songs on vinyl are live recordings.

Arenna has crafted one of the finest collection of rock songs made available to the buying public with “Beats of Olarizu”, not just in the genre of stoner metal or fuzz rock, but for the entire gamut of the rock world. This album is what we listen to music for! This is the one you’ve been hoping to hear when you were listening to the hundreds of albums before it, many of them quite good in their own right, but none as superb, none hitting just that right chord of effort and ingenuity. This album is for the ages, because, as it so happens, it is special.


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