Angry White Elephant – Vs. The Wooden Cobra

Rating: 3.5/5  
Distributor/label: Woodhouse Records
Distributor/label URL: www.woodhouse.de/woodrecords/woodhouse-records.html
Released: 2017
Buy Album [URL]: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B01MU1C5S3/ref=dm_ws_sp_ps_dp
Band Website: https://www.facebook.com/AngryWhiteElephant/

unspecified abcBand Line-up:

Vocals – Christian Jesse
Lead Guitars – Michał Malinowski
Bass – Max Brücker
Rhythm Guitars – Robert Sommer
Drums – Philipp Dous
Turntable – Frank Mädler

Tracklisting:

1. Intro
2. Gluttony
3. Frontflip
4. Self Ignition
5. Scarz
6. Deff People
7. Rebel Assault
8. The Hive
9. Spirograph
10. Nightmare On Wallstreet
11. Dortmund Dropkick
12. Vs. The Wooden Cobra
13. Rainmaker

Review:

Angry White Elephant are a post nu metal band, with crossover and hardpop influences. They were discovered by the legendary producer, Sigge Bemm, a man who has worked with Caliban, Tiamat and Farmerboys. AWE have gathered a few awards, and their album ‘Vs. The Wooden Cobra (very Freudian!) was released on the 7th of April.

In a way, this is a bit of a strange work, that needs some more sense of consistency and sense of self. What is this album supposed to be? On the one hand, you get everything but the kitchen sink; DJ scratching, samples, clean singing, growls, shred guitar solos in the style of Joe Satriani, guitar effects in the style of Tom Morello, clean, funky guitar, heavy metal riffs, etc., but on the other hand, this album can be very minimal and repetitive. And not repetitive in an intriguing hypnotic way, or a joyful headbanging way, just an annoying way. AWE’s ‘Rebel Assault’ is the worst offender. In 1 minute and 34 seconds, you hear just one guitar riff, and it is nothing more than a relatively simple three chord pattern. The hip-hop elements on top of it, do little to improve the music, and they are kind of old-fashioned, anyway. Ironically, the song ends with a sample saying ‘that was one in a million’. No it wasn’t. At least not in a positive way.

What makes things worse, is that the vocals are often shouted, and therefore, the singer doesn’t sing any kind of melody. When you are basically left with one main element of music – just riffs, those riffs had better be pretty damn good, and there had better be enough variety. With this band, you often just get the former, and they are nothing revolutionary or experimental. They are just different versions of Metallica’s ideas, from their groove metal phase. The moody and aggressive guitar breaks are some of the high points, but they often sound more of an afterthought, rather than a true, logical part of the song.

However, it certainly isn’t all bad, as there are some real gems to be found. ‘Self Ignition’ has an abundance of punkish attitude, vitality, and great sung note choices, with a distinctive delivery. All in all, it’s an awesome song throughout, that has a perfect balance of tension and release. You are made to wait for the highlights of it, but not for too long, and nothing gets overdone. ‘The Hive’ is more contemplative, but it is similarly very effective as a tasteful piece of music. Not only that, many other songs on this record have their rapturing moments, you just have to wait for them, a bit. That is no bad thing, at all, it just shows the band’s sense of judgement. For example the clean, climactic singing of ‘Deff People’ is an element that is longed for and well written, without being cliched and overly contemporary.

In conclusion, a fair bit of this album is bland. However, at a little under one hour long, it is quite an extensive album, anyway. If AWE discarded their weaker songs, or improved them, their work on the whole would give a far stronger impression. If only everything was good as their diamonds! For the sake of fairness, I will score this album, as if it was a shorter, but still decent length. Finally, if you like ensembles such as RATM, SOaD and Incubus, this ‘Vs…’ may be right up your street, and you may disagree with my criticisms!

Review by: Simon the Mighty
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