Monday, March 26, 2012

The Bendal Interlude - Odourama (EP) (2012)

Walking the fine line between modern thrash and stoner grooves, The Bendal Interlude have built a reputation for themselves, opening for the likes of Sunno))) and Earth on their quest to rule the world. With their latest release, a new EP titled "Odourama," this Liverpool based four piece are bringing back their brand of deafening riffs and inexplicably harsh vocals for another go-round. With the goal if touring endlessly behind this release, can these four songs be the foundation for a rise to power?

The title track, complete with sickening music video, begins with a spoken word segment, taken from the 1981 film "Polyester." Before you know it the riffs are coming fast and furious. There is always something inherently catchy about some well crafted thrash riffs, and these are no different. In particular, the verse sections get lodged in your brain. The vocals are predictably grating, though their impact is lessened by the murky production work. The cloudy mix turns things into one plane of sound, making the small bits harder to pick out. With more spoken bits interspersed throughout, there is a very good use of stop/start dynamics. But now, it is time to put on your hat, as "Hat Time" would indicate. This two minute burst is as heavy as you could expect, with some double bass pedaling and snare fills ringing out. Once again, audio clips get edited in, but this time they are layered with the raucous riffs into one entity. It is, indeed, an entire hat philosophy.

The most complete track comes in the form of "Ron Salmon," which takes the writing process to a new level. The guitars are catchy, as before, but this time the chord and tempo changes are more precisely timed and linked. The drums continue to be a force, barreling through each segment with a thunderous heavy hand. The production, unfortunately, let's the music down. Guitars, bass, and drums begin to run together in one solid layer of distortion. This creates an unstable layer for the vocals, which end up sounding slightly off. To their credit, they make the most of what they have, and still manage to churn out a solid track, despite it's engineering faults. The offering ends with "Shants," where the true groove shines through. The opening riff is sure to leave a mark on you, with a blues feel before the distortion kicks in. But lost in the blaring vocals and sizzling cymbals is the reminder that there are strong fundamentals at play, be it in songwriting and execution. And what better way to end an album than by asking "I'd like to know what you're doing with all that chicken in your pants"?

Creating music of any style isn't an exact science. Sure, there are certain steps to take, certain order for things to fall into. The Bendal Interlude have the two most important aspects down, with creative songwriting and musicianship checked off the list. In four songs, they give you a taste of what they can do, including several different approaches. The third part, production, needs work if they are going to realize their potential. And while this sound infinity better than many other albums released this year (see: black metal), too much of their energy and talent are lost in the mix. With a little tweaking and freshening up, "Odourama" will live up to it's name.


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