Dunderbeist: Black Arts & Crooked Tails

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Dunderbeist: Black Arts & Crooked Tails
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Dunderbeist: Black Arts & Crooked Tails
Alternative Rock, Hard Rock
Indie Recordings
February 14th, 2012
Release length: 40:40
Myspace
Hedmark, Norway is the home town of the seven member Hard Rock act Dunderbeist, and what an act this group really is. More of a theatrical band, the members admit to stealing material from other bands and styles, and “making it their own.” This is pushed further by members of the band wearing white tanktops and black suspenders to recreate the visuals of early criminals, or in today’s case wearing business suits. What else can possibly be said other than that to establish that this group is a bunch of literal music thieves. But, is the fruit of their hard work actually worth it?

To be perfectly honest, knowing that the band probably hasn’t really composed a single original chord for these tracks really does leave a foul taste in my mouth, as it should others. It’s one thing to be inspired by something, but it’s another to take an existing product and just alter it enough to say its your own. Don’t get me wrong, I completely understand the concept of this band, and it definitely is more of a unique one considering they admit to doing what they do, but right away I felt uninspired by the groups work without really even listening past the first two songs. But, in defense of the recording, the production is pretty good. The drums sound pretty strong with a dominant cymbal presence that comes through loudly compared to the deeper snares and clicking bass kicks. The guitars have a nice Rock distortion to them with a slightly lower tuning, but the bass guitar really makes more of an impact aside just supporting the other chords, especially during some of the slower tracks or moments thanks to how obvious it is in the mix. The vocals here are largely just rougher harmonizations or deeper singing, all depending on the style or atmosphere, as well as the amount of energy brought into the mix.

Black Arts & Crooked Tails really seems to be focused on a mixture of Alternative/Hard Rock material, and some Stoner Rock/Metal as well. The latter style isn’t the most prominent here, but what does exist is worth checking out. This style shows up right at the start with “La Guerre de Feu (Lord of the Flames),” a catchy medium to slower paced track that has a decent vocal performance to back it up. The clean singing works well with some of the more emotional atmospheric moments that seem to take slightly from a Southern or Blues foundation, something that “Lucifer Eyes” really pushes forward with its grim, crawling,e emotional tone that could also fit into a darker musical of some kind. The chorus to the first track has a little extra power thanks to the richer guitar chords and stronger vocal performance, making it a great listen. “Winter Past” is also worth mentioning. This song’s more upbeat nature finds some simpler Stoner Rock riffs with an Alternative Rock foundation to the chorus, which is where most of the energy is located. The whole song features a tight performance from everyone, as well as a nice edge from the heavier chords and harder drumming. The track also features some random cartoonish bird chirping effects that feel a little tacked on, especially when they hit in the chorus. But, overall, this track manages to stand out more compared to the others of this genre.

On the other spectrum of things, you’ll find songs like “Through the Peephole” scattered about. This song has more of a sleeker sound to it, suiting for its Alternative Rock sound best fitting to bands like Saliva, but not quite as distinctive. The slower main verses allow for a nice range in the vocals, and the instruments do a good job slowly building up to a stronger chorus of melody with a little more edge to the tighter guitar chords and enriching drumming. “Shields Aligned” also stands out on the album for its more dynamic and epic keyboard-fueled operatic passages prior to the chorus, which also carries the same kind of energy, just without that over-the-top sound. The track itself is rather enjoyable with its choppier pace, finding the music moving once again at a mid-tempo, but also has a nice authority to it thanks to the simpler chords that are met with a pounding performance that accompanies them on the drum kit.

To be honest, going into this album left me grinding my teeth in aggrivation. But, Black Arts & Crooked Tails wound up being a nice little surprise. While the concept of literally stealing from bands is something no one should really get behind, Dunderbeist did enough work with the material to make plenty of the tracks rather unrecognizable as far as the source material goes. Mastodon, Danzig, Powerman 5000, Guns ‘n Roses, all of these were bands that will creep up into your head as the possible original composers, but there’s never enough to really cement any of them to specific songs. Black Arts & Crooked Tails is an interesting release with a good production quality and enthusiastic performances found throughout. If you like things a little more on the accessible side as far as heaviness or edge goes, then this latest Dunderbeist is worth taking a look into. It may not be the most compelling or unique experience ever, but there are enough solid songs to have you coming back for more.

01. La Guerre de Feu (Lord of the Flames) – 4:30
02. Through the Peephole – 3:50
03. Fear & Loathing – 4:00
04. Lucifer Eyes – 3:39
05. The Worst Sentence – 4:26
06. Shields Aligned – 3:45
07. More Me – 2:46
08. Winter Past – 3:13
09. 8 Crows and Counting – 4:25
10. Hum Hum – 6:06
Initial Pressing Score: 7/10

Dunderbeist (band)

Digital review copy of this release provided by Indie Recordings.