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Arabs In Aspic - Strange Frame Of Mind CD (album) cover


Arabs In Aspic


Heavy Prog

3.66 | 85 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Weirdly compared to Australian heavy psych outfit Wolfmother by some(?), Norway's Arabs In Aspic are actually anything but, instead reeling off a sharp mixture of Wetton-era King Crimson, grazing 70's rock and prog-referential wordplay that brackets them amongst one of the modern era's more authentic progressive rock acts. Their first album proper - this despite the fact that the group have been active in one form or another since around 1997 - 'Strange Frame Of Mind' is a promising debut, featuring a raw, uncompromising sound tethered with metallic edges, Jostein Smeby's powerful vocals and a nice line in sardonic humour('everybody is watching TV, except for Frank Zappa and me...'). Most of all it is the Crimson references that really jump out, the grinding patterns of 'Strange Frame Of Mind' shot through with a mighty dose of jagged proto-metal riffery obviously influenced by 1974's 'Red', though echoes of both that album's forerunner('Starless & Bible Black') and the new wave-dipped strains of 'Discipline' can also be heard bubbling away. Fleshing out the the groups impressively raw sound is the nicely-subdued but ever-ominous strains of Stig Jorgenson's organ, with the multi-instrumentalists presence adding a smattering of hard-edged psychedelia which juxtaposes smartly with the thrashed-up squalls of drilled guitars. Occasional lighter moments pepper the din, yet Arabs In Aspic seem at their best when performing at full pelt, as evidence by the yelped cries and churning rock structure of the excellent 'The Flying Norseman', the doom-tinged ambience of the seven-minute mini-epic 'Arabide' and the Aardvark-style groove of the excellent 'Moerket'. In between, the group's penchant for name-dropping glosses the satirical art-metal of 'TV', whilst the melodic 'Into My Eyes' showcases a slight Pink Floyd bent thanks to it's uplifting chorus and impassioned harmonies. More than most, 'Arabs In Aspic' seem to truly grasp the ethics of 1970's rock, their mixture of art-rock histrionics and brittle-metal riffs making them a formidable new act in the 21st century prog arena. Those looking for something slightly different to the usual digitally-enhance nonsense are urged to check this Norwegian outfit out as soon as humanly possible. Great stuff.
stefro | 4/5 |


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