The Sword Volcano Complex
By Ray Van Horn, Jr.
I came to this review immediately after a
rousing and friendly interview with Canadian metal giant, Thor. Given Thor's
sword and sorcery-inspired theatrics, it seemed not altogether out of the
question to approach a group calling itself The Sword Volcano Complex with the
same cheeky but grandiose spirit, given its experimentalist nature. As jaggedly
surreal as its name, the best compliment I can pay to Sword Volcano Complex is
that it is engaging, interesting and highly unpredictable. Not to say I've
finally acquired a taste for this genre, no. Still, credit where it's due;
Phosphorescent challenges at every possible turn, opting to inject some
grounded reality into its illusory experimentation.
Honeybees Arrive begins promisingly with nice synth
syncopation beneath a forceful narration that is sent into a derivative loop on
the word "sweetness." Hit and a miss, in other words. The Better Angels of
Our Nature features soothing rainforest samples that is not designed to
mimic one of those escapist therapy discs; the crackling and snapping sounds,
coupled with earthly chimes produce an organic, percussive texture that accent
the luxuriant piano and narration. Hit.
The title track has a playful synth march, classical in
structure, even with its sharp-nosed beats and breathy panting samples that
nearly undo the composition. Of course, in a genre such as this, there are no
rules of engagement; attack as the artist sees fit. Nevertheless, a hit.
Prepare For Landing proffers random warp beats and echoing hollowness,
while Knocking on Heaven's Door regurgitates jangling samples and fusion
clangs with streams of ringing and a deranged voice track that is just plain
Sending the Fetch is a neat title, and it has a
kaleidoscope of likewise neat melodies that are plundered by throwback sounding
tones not unlike Dario Argento's Goblins, and their work on the original
Dawn of the Dead score. Falling Cat has an altered voice track
that sounds like those wacky elves on the Santa bowling game, if one knows what
I'm referring to. For those who do, I dare you not to think Elf, Elf,
Baby!" during this track. The Other Side of the World has a solid bass
groove with swooning mantra vocals, making for a noteworthy effect. The track
takes on a song personality despite the random noises; World indeed can
almost be considered classifiable world music.
Fire! sounds like radio channel changing with a hand
wracked by Parkinson's, and oddly takes on the sound of an artificial
intelligence lifeform struggling to come online. Spindogspin is very
enjoyable with its house digital tribal groove. Hercules 2,
unfortunately, is a deluge of jumbled catatonia, while The Neon Man is a
swirling, scratchy, spacey dirge.
Bedtime Stories has a charming little opening,
coupled by a humorous narration that tinkers with nursery rhymes. Tiger's
Milk opens with a familiar hiss-pop sound of a turntable needle finding its
way to old wax, releasing an apparent recording of tiger snarls. Pretty cool
until the effect is undermined by an unnecessary myriad of noisy coldwave.
Hypnotized (live) has a techno acid groove, alas,
with besotted vocals that make it fun yet irritating. Finally, Under the
Paw has a refreshing tribal beat which nicely serves the weird random
samples of horses whinnying, werewolves howling, bells clanging, and an ominous
Dr. Claw-like voice rasping through the remainder of the track. Annoying but
Probably one of the most memorable groups in Triumvirate's
stable, The Sword Volcano Complex delivers an excessively complex platter of
exigent decadence with Phosphorescent. Not quite Thor's Beastwomen at
the Center of the Earth, but they can't all be gems!
Post: P.O. Box 6254, South Bend, IN, 46660, USA
Click to Buy!