This is a first for me and, hopefully, not the last: I'm reviewing a band from Iceland. This is small island country, but after listening to the Brain Police, I hope there are more bands to come from this small nation. Brain Police (the name is culled from a Zappa heritage ,yes, that Zappa) play hard rock with a very strong 'stoner' influence, with roots that go back as far as the 1960's. I think I heard everything from Led Zeppelin to Blue Murder to mid-eighties rock. Be prepared to be rocked and surprised. Where WolfMother simply made a photocopy of their influences, Brain Police invoke their peers and bring their own brand of rock.
From my research this recording may date back to 2006, but Brain Police have been picked up by the small (and obviously courageous) American label Small Stone Recordings. This crew simply nails history and adds their own modern influence to create interesting heavy rock, albeit, as I mentioned, stoner rock. No, this is not something affected by American rock or metal trends. It is better music than that. Not everything is perfect, but it is clearly significant.
'Beyond The Wasteland' is strong and aggressive rock: lots of heavy rhythms, strong (nearly modern) vocals, and some (emphasis on 'some') brilliant guitar work. There are enough twists to believe that they may have added some prog rock nuances to their music. 'Snake' is an example of this, especially in the opening chords. Other great cuts include the opening track 'Rooster Booster,' 'Not Chicks and Hell Queens,' which moves fast with impossibly hysterical pornographic lyrics, 'Thunderbird,' great, yet muffled guitar work, and 'Mystic Lover' that overcomes the 'stoner' motif and delivers great metal with some progressive elements. It's entirely heavy, but may it be the most epic number on the album. 'Leo' is entirely satisfying as is 'Human Volume' thanks to its introductory and continuing bass line.
Though I choose my favorite tracks, some may find the whole work simplistic and repetitive and I may have to agree. Without doubt there are some disappointing numbers on this work including 'Black Tulip' which is too heavy and monotones for its own good. It sounds like a swarm of killer bees heading to the hive. This is stoner rock to the max; not exactly my idea of a good time. Also, 'The Baron,' though laced with a heavy rhythm and great vocals, stills seems to be generic and unemotional. There are better songs on this album.
Iceland's Brain Police have produce some of the heaviest rock I have heard in the last 12 months. It's both original and derivative, but still surprisingly fresh. I would not necessarily put it in constant rotation around dangerdog.com, yet it is worthy of play. I like it because it comes from an unlikely source and basically, it's filled with impressive musicianship and creativity. It's definitely worth investigating. Recommended, if you still like stoner rock.
Good news from a small country: Iceland's Brain Police deliver heavy rock and metal with a definite 'stoner' vibe. It's good stuff, but I hoped for more. Give it a listen simply because it comes from an unlikely source.
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