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Gunjack - The Cult of Triblade Award winner

The Cult of Triblade
by Kira Schlechter at 10 February 2020, 4:12 AM

Concept albums, even loose ones, seem to be a thing. They are definitely GUNJACK’s thing, seeing as their second album continues the tale started in their first. “The Cult of Triblade” is the Italian band’s second album, following 2018’s “Totally Insane” debut effort. Triblade is a droid, and this is the second chapter of his adventures. The tracks are to the point and well-edited – 13 songs in a smidge over 45 minutes is an exercise in self-control.

The sparse introductory track, “The Cult of Triblade (Rite of Initiation)” has Mr. Messerschmitt’s bass acting as lead guitar, setting up a very European-sounding melody. His voice is almost spoken, like a chant, and is treated with an echo. It acts to set the stage for the story, warning “these are dark times,” “there is no justice,” and “there is not glory.”

In reality, our Mr. M holds a Ph.D from the LEMMY KILMISTER School of Lead Singing, which becomes abundantly clear on the thrashing, MOTORHEAD-esque “Behind the Truth.” The band owes a tremendous debut to the British legends, from his voice to his upfront bass to the focus on the bottom end. There’s also a spirited little marching tempo breakdown with a high guitar part slicing through. Having lyrics would help in order to follow the story, but this one seems to be about some sort of war or conflict.

“I’m Not Innocent” is filled with more bass and guitar harmony, set to a swinging catchy groove – it’s very low-fi but appealingly so. Obviously our lead character did something wrong here, but feels no remorse – “hate was eating me,” “kill or be killed,” “I had no choice,” he says, and adds, “If I had the chance, I’d do it again.” The first single, “Fukushima,” seems to relate the story of the Japanese nuclear plant destroyed in the 2011 earthquake and subsequent tsunami. It’s unclear how this fits into Triblade’s story, but perhaps he’s been a witness to historical events. Either way, it’s definitely a sharp criticism of nuclear energy (“in the name of progress, we infect the earth”). The rhythm changes are really effective here, and it’s nicely brief and biting.

“New Cold Soldier” starts out slow and grinding, then picks up, the shouted-out backing vocals giving it urgency and punch. When they go back to that slow start, it’s so satisfying because it ties things up so well. The nods to MOTORHEAD abound, like in “Immortals,” but without the humor and tongue-in-cheek quality of the original – and that’s OK. Gamma delivers a very WURZEL-like solo, and they continue to excel at seamless tempo changes. The group singing at the end is loads of fun, with Mr. M going over the top at a higher octave to drive it home.

Tracks like “District 9” (with its irresistible dark chord progression) and “Mind’s Annihilation” showcase M47’s machine-gun drumming, particularly the latter – he’s deadly precise and his fills in the chorus are notable for their variety. He shines too when it picks up in the bridge, Gamma’s guitar briskly following his lead. Mr. M’s bass stars in the opening riff of “Kneel Down,” and he dabbles a bit in a death-metal growl, which is a nice touch (“you bastard, kneel down,” he rumbles in the chorus).

“Normandy” again may be the character witnessing a past event (he refers to “150,000 souls,” the number of those killed in the pivotal World War II battle). “Lake of Uniforms” continues the warfare theme, and the chorus is a standout for its instrumental tension – staccato then legato, pushing, then pulling. There’s a little fighter jet cockpit kind of stuff in the fadeout of this slightly longer track, perhaps the apex of the story as the character seems to be looking back on his life.

The instrumental “Triblade” blazes with killer bass, snarling, spitting guitar accompaniment, and first-rate drumming – double-kick, super-speedy triplet rhythms, cymbals, the lot. They can have this one because it’s a little over a minute long and everyone sounds terrific. The closer, “Last Conflict,” almost carries on the sound of the previous track, since they mesh well, and that slow, sludgy breakdown is a nice change of pace.

Songwriting: 8
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 9
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

1. The Cult of Triblade
2. Behind the Truth
3. I’m Not Innocent
4. District 9
5. Fukushima
6. New Cold Soldier
7. Immortals
8. Mind’s Annihilator
9. Kneel Down
10. Normandy
11. Lake of Uniforms
12. Triblade
13. Last Conflict
Mr. Messerschmitt (Alessandro Dominizi) - Vocals, Bass
Gamma Morser (Fabio Cavestro) - Guitar
M47 (Andrea Ornigotti) - Drums
Record Label: Independent


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