Saturday, April 26, 2014
Chain Of Dogs - Burning Bridges In A World Of Death - De Ep's En Nog Get Mieë
Yesterday's Dictionary.com word of the Day was scherzo and while not totally "light or playful", Chain of Dog's take on the pagan metal style which was made so popular by bands like Finntroll is very much in line with the word. Burning Bridges In A World Of Death - De Ep's En Nog Get Mieë, not the most simplistic album title by anyone's measurement, is a mix of past recordings from this Dutch group. It compiles the bands two EPs: 2012's Deathworld and 2008's Bridgeburner as well as their self-titled demo minus a song, a remixed version of "Doa is mie Land" from their 2010 full length and finally an unreleased track. Burning Bridges is forty-seven minutes of frivolous sounding folky thrash. While the band frivols through the tracks impressive musicianship and finely crafted songs allow the strange combination of thrash and folk to at least be taken seriously. Whether its humpaa or a Celtic styled jig, the folk is in full effect across all the releases touched upon and Chain of Dogs tackles them all admirably.
It almost doesn't work though. If it weren't for the amazing violin work of Arne Gerits the album would fall about as flat as a pancake dropped from a high building. The simple instrumental texture it adds to rather mundane riffs and bland rhythms is a blessing for all the songs here. This is evident from first track, "D'r Zjwarte Hond va Krapoel" when, about halfway in, the song runs into an instrumental section which is highlighted by how boring it is without the violin playing. It's not just the violin that picks up the slack however, the band is at their best when incorporating the additional folk instruments into the songs. "Deathworld" uses a mandolin as well as the violin giving the track a very celtic feel and "Bridgeburners" shows Gerits' flute-playing skills. Even though the actual usage of folk instruments in terms of the songs' structures and arrangements remains generic, the end outweighs the means here.
As for a favorite track, I think "Blood Follows" is the strongest track here. Vocalist Olaf Nijssen has a gritty vocal timbre and across many of the songs I continuously keep thinking of Hansi Kursch. "Blood Follows" shows him being more versatile, with more melodic vocal sections and some screamed parts his accompaniment on the mandolin, though subtle is nice as well. In this song, though it remains folky and retains the pagan elements which Chain of Dogs is keen to explore, is just a little less happy-go-lucky and more serious. While not as thrashy as "Bridgeburners," the song which follows, the faster, thrashy ending rounds out the track nicely. Speaking of "Bridgeburners," Olaf sounds most like his Blind Guardian vocal-doppleganger in the verse sections and when he isn't screaming in what sounds like the agony of a thousand burning arrows to the sternum. In a bunch of the songs, we get some really quick spurts of yelled vocals influenced by the band's punk roots.
Weakest point for Chain of Dogs is the drumming of Keneth Martens or Niena Bocken or whoever played on the multiple released compiled. It seems like it's the band's stubborn enemy. A lot of the drumming just stands out as miserably uninspired and lazy. We are given four or five different beats across all the tracks. The thrashy parts continuously resort to snare-beating. There is a monotony to the percussion which emphasizes the monotony in the rhythms of a lot of the songs. For the few measures when the drums skip along in "'t Zjwatte Loak" is one of the few times we get some new looks with the drums. The Unreleased track that is on the album is only fifty-three seconds long. That's ridiculous. Chain of Dogs should have left this a pure compilation instead of add it on for whatever reason. It's not very good and really doesn't need to be here.