As regular readers know, I'm not the world's greatest authority on all things metal, though I have dabbled in the genre on a few reviews for SoT. My confidence in the subject matter was knocked recently though by the poll that we published asking readers to vote on their favourite form of the genre – did you guys see how many sub-genres were listed?? Crikey, there must be one metal sub-genre for every band! I know genres and sub-genres help to define music to others in reviews such as this, but it did seem a bit "over the top" to me. Guys, this is just music, and there can be few artists who don't stray from a particular genre, let alone such finely defined sub-genres. Anyway, sorry, this is not a blog, it's a review. Right, let's get on with it....
You'll have guessed that Aquefrigide's La Razza is a metal album. It's not progressive metal, despite the fact that I think La Razza is a concept album ("The Race" or "Species" – my Italian isn't strong enough to decipher the meaning in the lyrics I'm afraid). The band is a vehicle for solo artist Bre Beskyt Dyrene, who is the sole composer of the music, as well as singing and playing "all" of the instruments except bass and drums. I say "all" because it doesn't sound as if there is much more than guitar-bass-drums; this is a sparse soundscape. The singing, virtually all in Italian, varies between sing-speak, screaming and some growling. The tempo also varies from slow, through medium to, occasionally, nearly-fast: there is enough rhythm for the music to have a pleasing "head-banging" effect; it certainly works in that respect. The guitar is often harsh, this is metal with shards.
It's a "dark" album: the music is "dark" - though this is not doom-metal – through its composition and delivery, as well as the album art-work. There are a couple of moments of light – the quiet beginning of "Spacca Lo Specchio" has a lighter feel, without losing the angst, before exploding into metal again; and the final track "Infernale", which is an acoustic number; appropriately placed as the denouement, this means that irrespective of genre this is good album dynamics.
Bre Beskyt self-styles his music as part of a "Tragical Solid Solo Theatre Noise Project", claims he has a "rotten mind" and states that he is an established musician of the Rome unnderground scene (I would have thought that was a contradiction in terms, but there you go...). Clearly, there is much going on here in this metal soundscape that, irrespective of the rhythmic appeal of the music, needs to be understood, or the artist has not transmitted his message. Unfortunately, the language does prove a barrier in this case, as does the limitation of recording to disc. This is the kind of music project which really needs a live atmosphere to thrive: if you had at least that then Bre Byskyt's theatrical performance would in some way compensate for the lack of understanding of Italian. Without the language and without the live appeal, La Razza is diminished. My rating reflects that fact.
However, should you speak Italian or be a student of the language, as well as an admirer of metal, then Aquefrigide's La Razza may well hold you in its thrall.
1) In Che Depressione Suono
4) Bocca di Fuoco
5) Gas Mostarda (Ammoniaca)
6) Spacca Lo Specchio
7) Erbeta Il Gigante Gassoso
9) Rammarichi (Molto Tossico)
10) Non Tornare a Casa
12) Bromuyro (Frankulo Tutto)
13) Potrei Uccidere Un Cane
14) Un Perso