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Expenzer – Kill the Conductor Award winner

Kill the Conductor
by Aidan MacNaughton at 16 August 2015, 11:39 AM

EXPENZER’s  “Kill The Conductor” was released on July 6th, 2015, marking their first release under their name. It seems not before time, though - according to EXPENZER’s biography it took them two decades of rehearsals and collaborations before they could become fully realized. Whatever the reasons, it does not matter. “Kill The Conductor” is the end result of a tight membership of musicians who know how to get your head banging, foot stamping, horns flailing – oh, and maybe a few doors kicked in!

What made listening to this album an enjoyable and brutally enduring experience were the catchy and recurring lyrics. The album kick starts with the song “Bitter End” which includes the words “hoping for the bitter end…” Not only in tune thematically with the concept of the album, it also made me mouth the lyrics as they came up. Surely a positive and admirable achievement when song that engages its listener to this extent. The catchy and engaging vocals and lyrics would not be such without a riff that drives them. At 2m15s into “Bitter End” we hear a solo with a bass thrumming its own riff balancing out the high melodies and driving the song with its momentum that which prepares us for the onslaught riff that comes next. The guitarists pause the entire riff for a beat before continuing their attack. The result is punchy and well paced rhythm. “Bitter End” does not end bitterly – we hear a fantastically powerful collision of guitars and doublebass drumming – a perfect ending to kick-start and prepare us for more brutality and rhythmic bulldozing.

I think we can imagine that it is a fair concern amongst musicians that their songs all sound samey and repetitive. Perhaps EXPENZER knows this; if they don’t it does not matter because “Kill The Conductor” opens with two guitars playing the opening riff one after the other which on decent speakers sounds dynamic and heightening, no doubt a testimony to the excellent production and mixing at Little Creek Studios in Zurich. The musical elements of this song that shone were the excellent bass at 1m 40s in. We hear an intermittent bass riff compliment a technical string skipping riff. The guitar riff endures however the bass begins to compliment the whole riff and we hear a complex and engaging bassline. It is nice to hear this arrangement. The element ended in a past passed riffing sweeping. This was an appropriate ending for a fast paced song full of thrash and metallic energy. The instrument used in this song each stand out in their own right – including Tom on the vocals, yet still managed to complement each other.

Much like “Bitter End” “Kill The Conductor “ had my head nodding in engagement, and the variety of riffs organised and arranged thoughtfully meant that my interest never waned. Did I mention EXPENZER would most probably sound excellent live?

Despite its strange sounding name, “Dying T-Rex” offered a similar structure from “Bitter End” and “Kill The Conductor”. It has slightly more disgruntled and less rhythmic riffs sounding more chaotic, so it was hard to tune into it although we can recognise its technicality. The solo at 2m 10s was jarring and dissonant, and in this sense made an interesting contrast from the prior two songs. As if to acknowledge this, we have the mandatory chugging towards the end of the song. If EXPENZER carried on the album itself would have gotten a bit boring, but thankfully the 5th track, “Amorphous Flowing Ice” introduced some exciting and new elements, such as the whispered and atmospheric vocals. The catchy and rhymes in the vocals alongside repeated guitar motifs make this song one of my favourites. “Pelvic Fin,” mirrors this with its own individuality that one will remember after listening.

The most eyebrow raising and yet acceptable highlight of this album occurred in the song “Unicorn”, with the highly inhumane synthesized vocals. We hear a fantastic bass solo at 1m 40s then hear some electrifying harmonics and guitar soloing. This creates a song that has a distinct and unique feel to it. At 3m 10s, along with the chugging riff, we hear the synthesized vocals again, and it really provided the song with a different feeling to it. Slightly inhumane and uncanny – all great things to experience and re-invent its prior thrash-metal sound. I particularly enjoyed “Silence Of The Amps” because Tom the vocalist explored his range more and was able to drag and hold out on a word at the end of the chorus, giving the song a different tone from his usually fast paced jabbing and stabbing lyric vocal style. It gave the song a more sadder and sombre tone; something this album needed to holdits interest. This song felt individual and worthy and stood on its own.

Overall a varied, catchy, exciting, engaging and interesting listen. The album “Kill The Conductor” was had varied riffs that each were arranged to give different affects and emotional engagement. These riffs were complimented by chuggy and punchy riffs – more importantly though, ones that allow one to head-bang and windmill (trust me for some riffs you cannot help it). The bass drove the songs, giving it a groove and rhythm but never fully droning out the guitars and vocals. Pieric and Renato both displayed excellent technicality in their musicianship, and vocalist Tom allowed himself to explore different lyrical styles, form his usual jab and stab vocals, to whispers and anthem like note-holds. EXPENZER even has a synthesized vocalist too – neat and unique. At any rate this album, was consistent in sounding like decent thrash metal. EXPENZER should be proud of their first release, and go into battle with their heads held high, knowing there will be some decent (hopefully mandatory) mosh-pits and spilled beer; just remember not to kick in any doors.

5 Star Rating

1. Bitter End
2. Kill The Conductor
3. A Dying T-Rex
4. Play For The Deaf
5. Amorphous Flowing Ice
6. Pelvic Fin
7. Erase It
8. Unicorn.
9. Light Speed Heart Beat
10. Silence Of The Amps

11. Chasm
Tom Kapeller– Vocals
Renato “Reni” Burkhard – Guitar
Pieric Grosjean – Guitar
Gregor “Lou” Luther – Bass
Reto Bachmann – Drums
Record Label: Czar of Bullets


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Edited 29 November 2022

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