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Seven Impale: Contrapasso

Having debuted with their City In The Sun album in 2014, Norwegians Seven Impale return with Contrapasso. The sextet made quite an impact with that first offering, gaining admiring glances from the followers of Zappa, Van Der Graaf Generator or King Crimson. However, with this band we're more obviously in the land of the crossover, saxophonist Benjamin Mekki Wideroe as much a driving force behind the Seven Impale sound as a pair of guitars courtesy of Stian Okland and Erland Vottvik Olsen. It's challenging stuff as jazz collides in super-slomo with prog and art; notes and melodies exploding from the carnage. Okland is also an enigmatic singer, finding the voice of demons and devils one moment, frolicking fairies the next. He's a real focal point and yet if there's a cherry on top of the Seven Impale attack, then the vocals are merely a dressing on that cherry, for below there's so much to sink your knife into that you're simply spoiled for choice.

"Lemma" is a mean crawler, layered devil worship like vocals the mesmerising theme for stabs of organ and a bottom end that pulses and throbs quite worryingly. Add in zany synth noises and any prog go by lightly will have already turned tail and fled for fear of their Flower Kings CDs melting. That sax then pierces, whistles, squeaks, squawks and squarts over the top in quite unruly fashion, is confirmation that if you haven't been holding onto your hat, you'll just have lost it. If your wide brimmed stetson or furry fez is still firmly in place and you haven't been clean spun off the madness roundabout, then the treats will continue to tumble forth. "Heresy" then adds more groove and some conventional vocals, even if they are full on, or quaint and angelic, before stripping everything back and looking inside for the craziness. The manner in which the sax work roams throughout from in your face pace setter, to sitting on bassist Tormod Fosso's lap and adding more power to his thrust is captivating in the extreme, every parp n' fart thoroughly taking your breathe away. "Serperntstone" suggests King Crimson standing on some Quicksand as something all the more accessible decides to Rush by, showing that Seven Impale can do more readily welcoming fare. Even if it is all a way to ask you to take a seat in the comfort zone before revealing the candy they offered you earlier was LSD. Cue a crescendo that's like a wave of full on blue cheese, its heady aroma drawing you in, even though you're not quite sure if the words to describe it should be 'mature', or 'ripe'. It feels like album's end, but with the eleven minute plus "Phoenix" taking that crown via a strange sit-com voice over with canned laughter and trippy effects, there is no easy way out of Contrapasso, but it sure is memorable.

As are Seven Impale themselves, this band showing no signs of calming their concoction and delivering a focused collection of hazy crazy in the process. Those looking for something on the wild side need only apply.

Track Listing
1. Lemma
2. Heresy
3. Inertia
4. Langour
5. Ascension
6. Convulsion
7. Helix
8. Serpentstone
9. Phoenix

Added: November 13th 2016
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Seven Impale on Facebook
Hits: 1764
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Seven Impale: Contrapasso
Posted by Jon Neudorf, SoT Staff Writer on 2016-11-13 00:48:23
My Score:

Seven Impale is an impressive young band from Norway playing music on the cutting edge of progressive rock. Their debut City of the Sun, released in 2014, was an excellent album as is their new platter Contrapasso.

The band's line up remains the same as on the debut and includes Stian Økland (vocals, guitars), Fredrik Mekki Widerøe (drums), Benjamin Mekki Widerøe (sax), Tormod Fosso (bass), Erlend Vottuik Olsen (guitar) and Håkon Vinje (keyboards).

The band cover different styles, a bit like Beardfish in that respect, touching on jazz, retro hard rock, metal, space and just pure progressive rock with an eclectic edge. The music has great dynamic range and goes from heavy to light with the utmost of ease. Just as there is variety in the compositions, the vocals are also a highpoint demonstrating Økland's considerable range. The band also makes great use of studio enhancements altering his voice to great effect when the need arises.

The first track "Lemma" is a heavy offering featuring slightly ominous vocals and dirge-like metallic riffs. Cool radio effects, squelching sax lines, spacy keyboards and theatrical vocal stylings complete the package. On the dynamic "Heresy" a classic style hard rock groove slows down as dreamy vocals soften the sound. An organ riff gets the band back into heavier territory as bass and drums lead a solid groove. The tricky time signatures should be a plus for hard core prog fans. The band's retro psychedelic roots can be heard on the excellent "Inertia", that has the band forging new sounds while keeping a firm handle on their '70s influences. The keyboards and electronics are quite pronounced in the quirky "Helix" that also includes a heavy metal riff that would please fans of Black Sabbath while the album ends with the electronic heavy "Phoenix" complete with cool voice samples and trippy effects.

Contrapasso continues the band's adventurous forays into progressive rock making Seven Impale one of the brightest stars in the genre right now. Released on Karisma Records.

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