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

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

What's cool? Ovenizer, "Satan's Washing Machine"

Campy goodness, but solid post-metal delivery

Scratch the surface on most stuff and it's all the same, whether it's the latest tween girl pop fluff or a technically accomplished bluegrass banjo picker. What you see is what you get, and either you already like it or you don't. Like everyone else, I have my share of simple tastes, but I really love music with some layers to it, where you can dig in and find something unexpected. It's why I love bands like Too Much Joy, with tight-rocking, smart ass songs that often turn out to be more serious than they seemed at first.

With all the bands that I come across, it's always pleasant when something surprises me, and that's what caught my attention with the Finnish post-metal band Ovenizer and their new single, "Satan's Washing Machine". The title alone is powerful in its ridiculousness: how deep in the barrel of metal imagery did they have to scrape to come up with the idea of Lucifer's home appliances? Before I even listened to it, I was ready for either the most pathetic metal band ever, or some group trying to pull a Spinal Tap.

The opening lines recall Spinal Tap's "Stonehenge", suggesting it's more likely a parody play: "Spark flew from the tree/ Spawned in Satan's Washing Machine." But I've watched the video a few times and they treat it pretty seriously, avoiding any sly, subtle winks. Regardless of how offbeat the theme is, though, the song is well made. The opening imports some folky acoustic guitar to give the tune some roots while the lead singer's husky voice adds the visceral punch. The open, airy arrangement quickly fills up with solid drumming and a tight guitar riff. The chorus expansively edges into post-rock with thick walls of cymbal, guitar, and bass The double pedal kick drum work gets more impressive as the song builds, hitting a climax during the bridge.

The video adds its own perspective. It may have been shot on a budget, but it's lovingly constructed. The band plays on packed snow, surrounded a stand of tall trees with a torch burning in the background. In a nod to the inspiration, the set also includes the titular washing machine. You can tell it's Satan's because it's been eviscerated and it's conveniently labeled with "666". To match the rising intensity of the song, members of Flamma Fire Group add some pyro excitement with spinning torches and spitting flames. Eventually, everything is on fire, including the instruments. By the end, the camera tracks through the snow to find the smoking, demonspawn Kenmore and then cuts back to the instrument pyre, merrily burning.

The video may revel in campy goodness, but the band plays it straight. If you don't pay too much attention to the lyrics, it's a solid post-metal outing. Maybe it's less Spinal Tap than Frank Zappa. Zappa was happy to entertain his audience with silliness like "Don't Eat the Yellow Snow", but that was the sugar to get them to swallow his musical ideas. Ovenizer certainly isn't the metal Mothers of Invention, but their growling tribute to Hell's laundry room is weightier than the first glance.

"Satan's Washing Machine" is from Ovenizer's latest album, SWM, on Norwegian Pope Records.

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