(Artwork care of Karen Ramsay (www.karenramsay.com), profile photo care of brianlackeyphotography.com)

Friday, September 2, 2011

CD review - Rusty Pacemaker, Blackness and White Light (2010)

Outsider metal flavored with doom and gloom

The world is full of interesting people. Take today's artist, Rusty Pacemaker. Despite his American sounding name, he's firmly rooted in Austria. Declaring himself a self-defined musician, his path to releasing Blackness and White Light included teaching himself to play guitar and bass, creating a home studio, and starting his own record label. While he acknowledges his love of bands like Black Sabbath and Viking Metal pioneer, Quorthon (Bathory), Pacemaker makes clear that his musical path has been focused on giving voice to his own songs.

Blackness and White Light's songs show off some of those influences, especially Black Sabbath. But the mix of classic metal, doom metal, and progressive rock elements come together in an original sound. Pacemaker is joined by a phenomenal drummer, Franz Löchinger. Many of the songs shift tempos and rhythms and, most of the time, Löchinger's playing sells it. Revolution's intro is much better for the busy syncopation contrasting against the guitar grind.

The percussion on the title song shows is another great example. The groove is laid back and moody like Sabbath's Planet Caravan. Pacemaker's whispered vocals add a detached tension. The song transitions into a section with acoustic guitar and chiming keys, while the drums provide a simple heartbeat. This open part builds into a bigger jam, with a post-rock electric guitar solo floating over the relaxed beat and simple guitar rhythm. It's almost Floydian.

My favorite track, though, was Amok. The haunting guitar intro resonates into a fuller sound. This evolves into an very early King Crimson style jam slightly reminiscent of I Talk To The Wind. The dreamy female vocals (Lady K) set up a call and response. Thoughtful guitar riffs herald a somewhat strained race into a faster paced section. Disquieting whispers lurk before the female vocals kick in again. After another speed up, the song finally crashes. The tempo changes could be smoother, but the overall effect is still catchy.

The rest of the Blackness and White Light ranges from the doom metal touches of My Last Goodbye and the modern metal of The Human Race to the moody psychedelia of Waiting For Tomorrow. Rusty Pacemaker presents his downbeat vision, which avoids easy classification and challenges the listener to commit to the ride. It's a journey off the beaten path, so there are some rough patches, but the terrain can be interesting.

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