With three albums under their belt, Danish art-punks Grope return with Desert Storm, one of the best albums of its kind in recent memory.
There is a dazzling variety to the kinds of melodies on this disc; from the slamming, ultra-melodic chorus on "Perfect Queen" to the Scottish soccer hooligan stomp of "JT's PRS", the boys of Grope are comfortable with a stunning array of moods and styles.
Vocalist Per Ebdrup shifts from one voice to another with ease; his forceful yet restrained singing on "Pacified" gives way to the guttural, death-growl on "Trapped in a Bottle". In the hands of a lesser band, this album would have felt schizophrenic; instead, it is a feast for the senses, the best energies of three or four different bands distilled into one.
The title track deserves special attention, because it's one of the most inventive, ambitious songs attempted by a "hardcore" or "extreme" band in some time (I use the quotes because Grope doesn't truly fit into either of those categories, nor any other that I can find; they are one of those rare bands that seems to defy categorization). The central riff, believe it or not, comes dangerously close to plagiarizing Paul McCartney's "Live And Let Die", but it's implemented in such a manner that no offense could possibly be taken. Clocking in at just over seven minutes, "Desert Storm" is a bright, serious, and well constructed bit of work with a driving rhythm and a vocal melody that will catch your ear instantly.
Also worth mentioning is "In The Name Of Hate", a blistering three-minute piece of agression with an oddly dissonant clean guitar line that chimes throughout the layers of distortion with haunting precision.
The great pity about Desert Storm is that it will most likely be lumped in with the voluminous bulk of similar material from countless groups. There's nothing about the packaging, the marketing, or the media positioning to indicate just what a priceless gem this is. Without question, one of the best albums so far this year, in any genre.