“Stranger Times” by Vulture Industries is less stranger than their last album “The Tower.” And that’s actually great! What I mean is that, they still sound weird at times (which is awesome) but on “Stranger Times,” the band don’t let their eccentricities dictate the direction of the songs. They are there but the songs decide when things become odd or when vocalist Bjørnar E. Nilsen goes more toward what I call his “carnival barker” vocal versus something that showcases his natural ability.
Musically, the band remind me of California-era Mr Bungle mixed with Arcturus and even a dash of Devin Townsend. Since I love all of those acts, I’ve loved Vulture Industries from the start. Yes they are strange but strange is interesting and there are too many bands out there that are either boring or following the latest trend. That’s not what Vulture Industries is about. “Stranger Times” finds the band striking a perfect balance of great songs and the patented Vulture Industries approach to music.
The album starts with an awesome one two punch of “Tales of Woe” and “As the World Burns.” The former is about as straight forward as Vulture Industries can manage and is catchy as hell. “As the World Burns” is a slow building track that, when it takes flight, it’s the perfect example of how dynamics can work in a song when done this well. “Strangers” was the first track released with a music video. The key to this track for me is the trumpet (yes trumpet) throughout the song and the killer guitar solo. There’s a great guitar solo at the end of “As the World Burns” as well.
This is going to get redundant but too bad! “The Beacon” is another great song with a great riff, great harmonies and I love the keys on this one. “Something Vile” is ironically titled since the song is anything but vile. This was the second track released from the album. The riff is slow and deliberate, and yes one of the best riffs on the album. A fitting quirky vocal from Nilsen during the verses is met with a great combo vocal on the chorus.
“My Body, My Blood” is a pulsating intro track to “Gentle Touch of a Killer” which reprises the melodies and some lyrics from the first track. It makes for a cool two part suite that slinks and slithers along. I’ll forgive the spoke intro to “Screaming Reflection” since it doesn’t last long and gives way to a thunderous track. The final track “Midnight Draws Near” finds Nilsen really going full on “looney” with his vocals and it REALLY works because of his overall “restraint” (well, restraint for him anyway) to this point. I still think there will be listeners who might find his vocals challenging but I’ve always loved his voice and over the top delivery.
“Stranger Times” is the album I was hoping Vulture Industries would make. It maintains the sound they have cultivated over their first three albums while upping their songwriting to a whole new level. Catchy avante garde prog metal is possible and “Stranger Times” is the proof.
- Tales of Woe
- As the World Burns
- The Beacon
- Something Vile
- My Body, My Blood
- Gentle Touch of a Killer
- Screaming Reflection
- Midnight Draws Near