Mascot [Release date 25.08.17]
The three piece Belgian rock band Triggerfinger – Ruben Block vocals and guitar, bassist Paul Van Bruystegem and drummer Mario Goossens – push the stylistic envelope with a creative, cross genre, alt.rock album that is aptly titled ‘Colossus’.
The big sounding album is the first time they’ve used an outside producer – Mitchell Froom (Bonnie Raitt/Paul McCartney/Crowded House/Los Lobos etc) – who oversees a leap of faith that finds them crossing over from rock and pop, with post punk energy levels, into electro and plenty of experimental new sounds.
It’s an imaginative album that unveils new musical elements as a part of a layered sound with ram rod hooks.
Triggerfinger is clearly a band that enjoys taking chances. They veer into different directions and think nothing of juxtaposing an array of contrasting moods and feels as they search for an overall direction to glue together an ambitious album.
‘Colossus’ is a much more produced album than the band’s previous efforts, which were much closer to their live set. It’s a mash up that leads them to more sophisticated musical ideas, with a focus on new sounds with a bigger sonic impact.
Some of the songs are carried by the atmospheric feel that their adventurous approach gives them. On other occasions their creativity is tempered by the fact that songs such as the Muse and Primal Scream meets Bowie influenced ‘Upstairs Box’, doesn’t really go anywhere, even after they have created a layered groove with doctored vocals.
However, a bigger musical vision prevails through some slick sequencing that never leaves a song exposed on its own.
From the opening title track, with its double bass driven groove, an enveloping wall of sound and a Blue Oyster Cult style chanted hook, to the slowly evolving 2 part ‘Wollensak Walk’, complete with a bluegrass finish, ‘Colossus’ takes us on a musical journey that asks as many questions about the listener as it does about the band.
We’re thrown drawn into a challenging audio journey that makes an impact on different levels from the cerebral to the playful and is sonically challenging.
There’s a raft of influences at play, on an ever evolving album full of stylistic twists and turns. And the success of ‘Colossus’ or otherwise, will surely be determined by the band’s ability to drag their listeners with them.
To that end, they nail some wholesome grooves and use 2 basses on some tracks. They colour their compositions with synths, electronics, plenty of percussion and Ruben Block’s vocal attack that is as startling as it is versatile.
Guitarist/vocalist Block has commented that: “Anything goes, that was our motto”, and together with their new American they forge a new direction that draws on a diverse, but familiar set of influences.
‘Candy Killer’ pushes them into an 80′s electro feel, before they mix synthesized keyboards with electric guitars to good effect, while ‘That’ll Be The Day’ features industrial style percussion, Museque style distorted guitars and a vocal that evokes Radiohead.
The band’s restless search to capture a creative vibe, twice leads them into dichotomous parts in one song.
‘Afterglow’ is a good example of what a flexible production gives them. It opens with an intimate plaintive vocal and an up in the mix hook, but goes on to showcase a muscular guitar break that is as unexpected as it is excellent.
It’s possibly the most organic track on the album. You can hear the creative process at play as it pushes the band into different directions.
The album’s real triumph is the way it melds together all the different styles both within and between songs, and presents us with something that sounds like a step-up from what they did before.
And deep into a very diverse album, they kick ass old school style on ‘Bring Me Back A Live One’. It’s a big riff-led song with a growled out hook and Steve Berlin’s sax-led bottom end, which is in sharp contrast with what’s gone before.
‘Colossus’ is a surprisingly brave and honest album that wears its eclecticism on its sleeve, while remaining accessible enough to draw us into some big hooks.
Whatever you wish to call the band’s musical direction, the album title says its all really, it’s big! ****
Review by Pete Feenstra
Pete Feenstra presents his Rock & Blues Show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio every Tuesday at 19:00 GMT, and “The Pete Feenstra Feature” on Sundays at 20:00
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Each week David Randall presents ‘New to GRTR!’ on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, with the emphasis on independent artists and labels. During December he replays favourite tracks including power plays featured during the year. This show covers the period January-March and was first broadcast on 1 December 2019.
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