ANTLERED MAN – The Devil Is Them!
aaamusic | On 24, Oct 2013
The dictionary definition of unique is “being the only one of its kind; unlike anything else”. Whether London-based Antlered Man are aware of this I cannot say, however they certainly fit the bill.
A lot of thought has clearly gone into the composition of the band’s second album, This Devil Is Them! Soft and melodic prog-rock sections fused perfectly with heavy rock passages further juxtaposed with rapping and creepy droning noises would ordinarily sound confusing and misplaced, but Antlered Man execute these manoeuvres with confidence and it pays off. This is an album with vast quantities of contrast and experimentation, with an eclectic range of styles.
Opening track ‘The Ballad Of Hamhock Fullsleeve’ immediately sets the tone for the next 40 minutes, which I almost thought would be entirely instrumental, as it’s almost three and a half minutes (over halfway) before we hear the voice of Damo Ezekiel-Holmes. The following song, ‘GDZ’ is entirely different, opening with singing. This track keeps up the pace in the wake of the first song, but it does slow down and become gentle in a few places, hinting at what is yet to come.
The second longest song ‘Claude The Ideal Bloody Gentleman’ begins with a low-frequency hum overlaid with a soft melodic tune, then cuts into a heavy guitar riff and spends the remainder of the song jumping between the two. And it may well be the best song title I have ever heard. ‘Phony Tough’ combines a fat bass lick with one of my favourite guitar riffs on the album and some rapping. This is one of the more traditional sounding songs on This Devil Is Them! and has a memorable and melodic chorus.
Following this, we hear a curious sounding bass-line and reverbed drums playing under some eerie droning. This is the first half of the 10-minutes-long ‘Audition Tapes For Hades’ and it makes the choice of song title clear. A still slow but more rock sounding middle-section (which almost sounds like a separate song) takes over for a while and then fades into a little over a minutes worth of terrifying humming frequencies. Closing track ‘My Surname, My Cum’ is the shortest of the eight, at 2:22, and begins with a frantic drum pattern and bass riff, leading the way for the guitar and vocals to come in and complete the furious sound orgy that finishes the album off nicely.
The diversity of this band is really helped by the vast range of Ezekiel-Holmes, who goes from distorted shouts to rapping to falsetto and all of the usual singing in between. Fat sounding and intricate bass riffs from bassist Sam Ray mixed with drummer Oliver Parker’s heavy and often technical drumming provide a solid rhythm section. Not forgetting the guitar riffs from Danny Fury, which bring a unique edge to the sound of this album.
If you feel like listening to something new and interesting, if you feel like sitting or lying down and concentrating (trust me, you’ll need to) for 40 minutes on some experimental heavy music, I recommend this album.
It could be argued that Antlered Man are genre-confused, but I think they know exactly what they’re doing. This Devil Is Them! is an album with plenty to offer, unfortunately one that will only be enjoyed by a modest crowd.
To find out if you’re in this crowd, take advantage of a free download of ‘GDZ’ available from the Antlered Man bandcamp…