Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Album Review: Take Over And Destroy - Take Over And Destroy

Recent years have given us a number of bands that have embraced the sounds of the past to try to bring heavy music back to its occult (at least in image) roots. While there is something charming to the vintage sounds that could have come straight off a vinyl pulled out of a dusty attic, the fact of the matter is that none of the bands doing that sort of thing have spent nearly as much time refining their songwriting as they have twisting the dials for the perfectly imperfect production. They are gimmicks more than bands, and the songs are far less memorable than the sound they are presented with.

Take Over And Destroy is another of these bands, one that uses just about every sort of influence they can find, to make a mix that should be entirely unique. But since there are so many bands that have tried this, that quality has been tempered, to say the least.

But let's start off with the obvious. The production on this album is gloriously retro, sounding every bit the part of an old recording lost for decades until recently being found. There's something about hearing vintage gear that you know isn't being manipulated to sound inhumanly perfect that makes music easier to swallow. I do love that plug in and play ethos, so if nothing else, Take Over And Destroy has made an album that is enjoyable on that front.

When it comes to the music itself, the results are more mixed. By throwing so many different parts into the mix, the results are as muddied as you would expect. Just take the opening number, "By Knife", for example. We get a gallop from Iron Maiden's playbook, a section of Gothic rock vocals, and then a screamed chorus that is death-n-roll. Each part on its own is fine, and I don't dislike the song, but they don't exactly feel like they belong together. I prefer my songwriting to be more logical.

At times, what we get is an approach that echoes what Ghost would be, if they had death metal roots instead of pop. That misses the point of why Ghost has become so popular; the pop elements of their sound makes their music hard to resist. Take Over And Destroy, on the other hand, lacks those elements, which makes their music more 'pure', but also far less enjoyable. I'm not sure exactly who this is trying to appeal to. Death metal fans aren't going to be happy with how rock and roll this album is, and rock fans aren't going to be enamored with the come-and-go growls that litter the record. It's stuck in the middle of something, which is a dangerous place to be.

There are some fun moments here, for sure. "Separate From The Shadows" is a rollicking little song, and by and large they are tracks that have charm. While what I said earlier sounds harsh, it shouldn't be taken that way. This is a solid album, and the songs are enjoyable enough to sit down and take in. My issue isn't that the music is bad, because it isn't, but rather in what it's trying to accomplish. I know how much time and effort it takes to make a record, and I don't see the potential reward for the band in this case. The appeal for this blend of styles is so narrow that they seem destines to be one of those curiosities that gets relegated to the bottom shelf of hole-in-the-wall record shops, just like the albums that inspired it.

So look, if you want to spend a small chunk of time listening to something pretty good and mildly interesting, give this a shot. It's worth hearing once, but Take Over And Destroy is neither going to take over, nor destroy, based on this one.

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