Kruger – For Death, Glory And The End Of The World   Leave a comment

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It has been interesting to watch the metal scene progress over the last decade.  For the first time since its inception over thirty years ago, heavy metalers no longer stand in opposition to the music community at large.  Much to the chagrin of metal ‘purists’, extreme music is very much accepted by the establishment. Music elitists that have long written off this particular genre as just ‘noise’ are beginning to embrace bands from Sunn 0))) to Hammers of Misfortune.  PopMatters regularly reviews metal and even put out a yearly top twenty list; BrooklynVegan’s got a daily extreme music blog; hell, Pitchfork itself had a long running metal column “Show No Mercy”.  To steal one from Hilary Putnam:  cut the pie anyway you like, ‘metal’ just ain’t taboo anymore.

In large part, I think the acceptance of metal by the mainstream is a consequence of the relation metal musicians stand in with music in general:   Long gone are the days of being in just a “death metal” band.  In 2010, it’s all about playing “extreme progressive death metal” or “psychedelic black metal ” or blah blah fucking blah.  (I swear I have a genre label “Technical Progressive Death Fusion” on my iTunes.)  It’s clear that metal bands these days have a greater sense of the musical landscape and are much more willing to exploit sounds and techniques from different genres in their own music.  (Whether or not that’s a good thing…)     And apparently it’s a lot easier for long-time Pixie fans to swallow Nachtmystium post ‘Assassins’ than Kreator circa “Pleasure to Kill”.  Which of course is just to say that Pixie fans tend to be big fucking pussies but prominent music journalists nonetheless.   I’m not complaining, really.  I’d much rather be a metal fan today than say, 1995, when pickings were slim.  (Just to remind you, “Battles in the North” (LINK – Ruthless Reviews » TOP 10 WORST BLACK METAL RECORDS OF ALL TIME) came out that year.)  But being a metal fan post-“Jane Doe” does have its drawbacks.  For one, it makes reviewing albums like Kruger’s “For Death, Glory and the End of the World” (FDGEW) fairly fucking difficult. 

FDGEW (Listenable Records) is Switzerland’s Kruger’s fourth LP.  This is a very decent record, let’s just get that out of the way before, well, I start complaining.  I’ve spun FDGEW a couple of times since picking it up two weeks ago, and enjoyed it each time.  These guys are first class musicians and play a straightforward brand of post-sludge.  (Think Buried Inside, Rwake or Intronaut, but also Burst and label-mates Gojira.)  The production, courtesy of Kurt Ballou (Converge), is excellent and brings the rhythm section to the forefront, right where it should be.  Blaise’s bass playing is the standout here, eerily reminiscent of Meshuggah’s Dick Lovgren.  The drumming is tight – hypnotic even – and will definitely lock you into a groove for the duration of the album.   Kruger aren’t afraid to indulge in post-rock diatribes, as evidenced by songs like “Centre”.  But when these digressions are sandwiched in between Kruger’s palpable but controlled aggression (check out the incensed opening to “Villains”), the album really soars.  For those of you that worship the almighty riff, you’re gonna be disappointed here.  (Godspeed You Black Emperor showed us that the riff can and should be “transcended’, right?  Or not.)  And while FDGEW isn’t filled with too many memorable moments — “Our Cemetery is Full of Strangers” has to be the highlight — its cohesive:  taken in in one sitting, each song complements its predecessor. 

Here’s the problem, though.  Given the current state of metal, it no longer suffices to mix sludge and post rock or black and folk or any combination thereof and expect the album to be original, much less ‘the tits’.  When Atheist fused death and jazz twenty years ago, it was something none of us had ever heard before, which made it that much more incredible.  While it took another ten years or so for experimentation to really catch on in the metal community (yes, there were exceptions along the way), we’re a decade in now and it’s all pretty much been done.  Kruger suffers the same fate of most metal bands that want to fuse this and that.  They suffer from the fact we’ve heard it all before.  You don’t get bonus points for fusion anymore. And while I want to love FDGEW, just like I wanted to love “Spoils of Failure” last year or “Prehistoricisms” two years ago, all of these records sound far too much like “Panopticon” for their own good. It should be said ‘derivative’ isn’t always bad (Sleep, anyone?), but if you’re gonna hole up in one of these obscure sub-genres and build an altar to Isis, the least you can do is kick some fucking ass.  Kruger, unfortunately, does not.
Review Written By A.J Djalali

Kruger@MySpace
Listenable Records 

  

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Posted July 8, 2010 by doommantia in Kruger

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