Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Folk Metal Jacket - Spill This Album (EP) (2013)

With music being the most subjective topic in the world, everyone is entitled to their own opinion. And we encourage you to voice it early, loud, and often. You can hate a band, or bands, but it is always a reach to hate an entire genre. Having never been able to stomach "hardcore," which is so often wrongfully attached to metal, I can also say there are bands doing some pretty great things for the genre. So whether or not folk metal is your genre of choice, don't shut yourself off to the many new and different bands that are staking their claim in the realm. Truth be told, the folk metal arena has become overcrowded and stale, with so many bands doing the same thing and trying to pass it off as their own. Folk Metal Jacket, a seven piece hootenanny from Modena, Italy, have already identified themselves as innovators, as opposed to duplicators. Their decision to infuse the sound of the banjo into their high octane neo-folk style has immediately set them apart from their peers. And whether or not you think that would be enough to whet your whistle, "Spill This Album" will certainly peak your interest.

Marketed by their label as an album "that will go great with a couples of cold ones," it is important to note that this is more than just a beer enthusiasts wet dream. Within the first few measures of "The Battle," you have every indication that musicianship is key here. The heavily distorted guitars are the driving force behind verse and chorus, including a few technically sound solos. The banjo, on the other hand, is the major melodic element. It eaves you with every reason to bang your head, or induce a hoedown. But with the speeds this high, drumming becomes the keystone in the mix; too sloppy and it all falls down. Luckily, drummer Nicolò Cuoghi is at the top of his game throughout, especially on the aptly titled "Mosh'n Storm." The wealth of instruments on this track seems boundless, now including a strong keyboard presence to complement the already bursting guitar contingent. Vocalist Riccardo Zanasi offers his own unique layer to the mix, with a screeching vocal lead that grates and grinds away at your inner ear, while also pumping the adrenaline through your body. Just when you think the moshing part is over, and the quiet, folksy melody has taken over, you are crushed under one last wave to finish the track.

The last trio of tracks, beginning with the thrashing goodness of "Satyriasis," might actually be the poster child for the new wave of folk metal. The looping guitar riffs pump through your veins with ease, joined by the supporting cast of banjo, drums and keys. That may not seem all that new or exciting, but it is executed to near perfection. The same can be said for "Delirium Tremens," which somehow could be labeled as the most aggressive and the most endearing track on the album. The boom kick drums and dense guitar chugging push the track in a far darker direction. But as banjo player Mattia Barbieri spins a yarn, you may find yourself reminded of Kermit The Frog singing "Rainbow Connection." By no means is this meant as a slight to the band, or to play it off as a joke. They combine strength and subtlety into one avant ball of musical experimentation. A wild solo is the icing on the cake here, showing off the multifaceted sound this band has to offer. And in one breath, the mood changes. "Winter Fog" serves as the finale, and mightiest melody, on the album. Taking on a style akin to the Finnish Humppa, the tempo is high, and the energy climbs tenfold. It's fun, dynamic, and impossible to resist.

You can try as hard as you like to dismiss Folk Metal Jacket as some bizarre gimmick band, but you just can't logically do it. This isn't some throwaway joke album, meant to grab a few laughs and steal a few bucks. Quite the opposite, in fact. This might be the revelation the folk metal genre needed to reignite their fire, and move things in a new and different direction. Whoa, there. Hold on one second. No, we don't want to see every band auditioning a banjo player to join the movement. It would be hard enough to replicate what this band has done here, let alone trying to do it to catch the wave. Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but please, don't flatter yourselves and think that anyone could pull off this mind boggling mix. Instead you can follow their lead in a different respect; reevaluate what you're doing, go back to the drawing board, and look to become a leader instead of a follower. Because while "Spill This Album" may have brought a new wrinkle to light, it certainly isn't the final frontier.


Bandcamp - http://moonlightrecords.bandcamp.com/album/folk-metal-jacket-spill-this-album
Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/pages/Folk-Metal-Jacket/123250164374419

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