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Saturday, August 18, 2012

Album Review - Feuerzeug: Dead Wahines and Tsunamis

13 songs. That’s a lot of songs. That’s how many there are on Feuerzeug’s latest album, the May release of “Dead Wahines & Tsunamis”. How many of those 13 songs would you think, coming from a presently little known 4 piece rock band from Switzerland, would be worth listening to more than one time through? For those songs that happen to pass the initial audible audit, how many do you think would be worthy of additional playtime because they were enjoyable enough, intriguing enough, to warrant it? How many would you expect to then be listened to over and over again so as to catch all the nuanced, clever riffs, rolls, and solos that are tightly packed throughout each individual contribution? How about the intelligent and in depth lyrics, do they engender infinite rewinds in an effort to understand what the singer’s lush and full bodied vocals are dispensing? How many of these baker’s dozen would you think are a cut above your ordinary run of the mill stoner/doom tunes, perhaps offering influences and additions from other musical styles and genres that embellish the great low fuzz instead of detract from it? What percentage of this sizeable amalgamation of stoner/psych formulations truly belong in the LP collection of “Dead Wahines & Tsunamis”, available on iTunes, Amazon, and online? The complete and immutable answer is 100%, every goddamned one of them. Each and every one of these thirteen offerings are songs within the pale, so to speak. They are songs that are instantly recognizable as a cut above, as top shelf. They are the type of songs that only get better, more appreciated with each listen. You find yourself discovering something new on subsequent listens, whether it be the first week after you’ve purchased it, 6 months down the road, or, I’ll warrant, 10 years hence, placing this particular album collection alongside the likes of such standards as . . . yes, I’m going to trot it out . . . Kyuss’ “Blues for the Red Sun”, Aerosmith’s first four, Metallica’s “Master of Puppets”, Black Sabbath’s “Master of Reality”, Egypt’s self-titled EP . . . pick your favorite all time albums, slide them to the right a notch, and place a copy of this most excellent edition beside that esteemed group.

Man, the pressure to produce 13 songs of substance had to be somewhat daunting, but these guys seem to take it in stride. It’s a little like Messi or Kobe needing to bring their A game each time out because they know the opposition has brought theirs, but it turns out not to be a problem because the combination of skill and talent, honed from years of finger blistering work and an imagination of clarity and insight. Somehow this collection of Swiss rockers are able to hone in on such high quality sound, over and over again, providing tunes that are bursting at the seams with fun, soul, and sheer listenable joy. Even if you go back an album, to their first LP, “Drive Fast & Crash”, you’ll experience the same phenomena, except with a miserly 12, not 13, beautifully rendered, fully crafted melodies that rock your face off!

At first listen a couple of things jump out at you: these . . . songs . . . ROCK . . . HARD . . and the vocals are nothing short of tremendous. For me, the vocals play a key role in the overall quality of the music. Vocals don’t have to be genetically superior, or of broadway musical quality, but when they are, it tends to place the music on an upper shelf. Who can discount the athletic, driving vocals of Kyuss’ John Garcia, Ozzy’s unique and incredible sound on those early albums, Keith Gibbs’ throaty, hefty, brutal vocals for Sasquatch, Dave Wyndorf’s beautifully adept timbre on Monster Magnet’s monster tunes? David van Neeg provides more than simple serviceable singing on this album, he belts them out with force and fury, finesse and panache, striking chords and notes in perfect execution and timbre, matching the quality of his output to that of the music upon which it rides. He never struggles, never strays from the essence of a song, always delivering exactly what fits, what matches, what’s required. Hell, the guy can flat out sing - high, low, fast, slow, clear, meaty, beefy, big, and / or bouncy.    

Listed as the band members who are assigned the guitar are the heretofore mentioned David van Neeg and Esteban (Steve) Wolfensberger. Hah. These two do more than just play the guitar on these . . . did I mention there are 13 . . . songs. What they have laid down is magic, pure and simple. There is definitely a display of inestimable talent, deftness, and athleticism, on each song, not to mention perhaps tens of thousands of hours of practice, because regardless of talent level, skill comes only from rote execution, and the skill level on display with “Dead Wahines & Tsunamis” is as inestimable as the talent level. In essence, these 2 guitarists play music that provides instant gratification as well as continual and sustained pay off.

Lest we forget, Terry Pinhard, on bass, is not to be outdone by his counterparts. Skill, talent, imagination, all there, evident in the ferocious thumping and driving of his heavy strings, interspersed with imaginative rolls of funkalisciousness. Marc Cappaletti brings it all home with his assignment on drums. Some assignment; Mr. Cappaletti plays with relish and flare, with an adroit execution of imagination to match anything his frontmen can produce

“Cyclops Will Be Beheaded” kicks off the lucky set of 13. Fast and loud, heavy on skillful drums, it will have you stomping the floor at breath stealing pace. Low and fast guitar riding on top of driving, thumping bass, punctuated by a distortion in vocal delivery, all of it punching its way through to a closing flourish of guitar riffage.

“Landkreuzer” is another up tempo piece that displays the signature stoner guitar sound at the outset in a unique and imaginative rendition of guitar virtuosity, wrapped up in a blistering drum production and concrete busting bass rhythms. This song smoothly glides into its successor, “Evel Knievel Has Kissed the Devil” where the funkiest riffs on the album are on full display, riding right along with heavy, low, and loud guitar chords of stoner characteristic, as well as some truly blistering guitar solos that are worth the price of admission, to say the least. This is one of my favorite songs on an album full of favorites.

“I’ll Scratch Until I Bleed a Flood”, with its super cool title, is a super cool song, again infusing a little funk into the stoner signature sound, somehow fusing the familiar with the foreign and making it truly interesting and enjoyable. Another favorite. It’s just deliciously funky and fuzzy.

“Nightroghostcar” is up next. Up tempo and brutal, pounding its way along a concrete seam that is loosened and demolished along the way by the non stop attack from heavy stoner sledgehammering along with laserbeam solos of pure heat.

“Fusion Van” is loud, heavy, distorted and fuzzy, rolling up into a freight train tempo that barrels its way down the tracks at breakneck speed, leaving no prisoners behind.

“Cruising the Desert”, Part 1 & Part 2 provides a haunting rendition that initially is delivered in a similarl heavy and breathtaking style already displayed on previous songs, and segues into a nice, melancholy guitar solo rendition.

“Release the Kraken” starts deceptively slow, deliberate in delivery, heavy on distortion and left jab punctuation from the drums, slowly building to a magnificent crescendo.

“Kometa” is deliberate and measured in delivery, moving along at a steady pace through standard stoner sounds that are somehow new and fresh, before winding up slowly into a resounding and thunderous crash.

“Lieuplorodon VS Giant Orthocone” moves through many imaginative riffs and renditions, delivering an impressive array of solos, vocals, segues, and stoner standards. This song is imagination at its best, coupled with a fresh execution of the familiar.

“Magma, Lava, and Burned Karma”, another favorite, uses a somewhat familiar style with slow, slow, fast in execution for much of the song, but not strictly adhering to any preset method for delivery, instead seeking out its own path through comfortable territory.

The closer is the title track, “Dead Wahines and Tsunamis” and could be considered the highlight of the album. The delivery here is more insistent, perhaps a shade more serious while never losing its ability for fun and ferocious joy. The vocals on display here are exquisite, as are all the guitar renditions within solos as well as high octane riff delivery throughout. The drumwork is never muted, nor out of control, and the bass provides a huge warm blanket of low fuzz to wrap it all up. Skill and imagination are on full display on this track, closing out a wonderful album in wonderful style.
These little known gentlemen from Switzerland may never get the instant recognition that comes to some, never to all, but they most assuredly will gain boatloads of accolades from anyone or any entity that has the privilege and the pleasure of listening through these thirteen exquisite songs at least once. But the challenge is stopping at only once because they are so incredibly compelling, so incredibly well done that they, and you, will find that several subsequent playbacks are required to satiate the appetite generated from the initial listening.

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  1. thx so much for your kind words... it's really awesome


    Domino Media Group

  2. A top album of 2012? Possibly. Well done Ken, excellent words.


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