Suomalaista Metallia! We seem to be on a Finnish metal roll over the last week. First Kalmah, then The Jasser Arafats, and now Blastanus. Or maybe we’re just on a weird-band-name roll. On the subject of what this band’s name means, here’s a multiple-choice quiz:
(a) Pronounced “BLAST-uh-nus”, the name of the Finnish pagan deity who rules the underworld; lord of the heroic dead who perished by flame and sword;
(b) Severe gastrointestinal condition caused by eating too many wild berries in the Finnish countryside;
(c) What would happen if a cow tried to stifle a severe sneeze;
(d) None of the above.
If you chose (d), congratulations! From the band’s MySpace page: “The concept of Blastanus derived from the sick minds of two friends who at a young age decided to stop trivializing their existence and concentrate on the things that matter the most in life: Blastbeat and, well, you know, assholes!”
You’re probably already beginning to makes guesses about what kind of metal this is. But slow down a minute and hear us out.
Blastanus has one album to its credit. Self-released in July 2009, it’s appropriately called Odd, and consists of 16 tracks ranging in length from 00:07 to 04:12. The basic foundation is grindcore, with all the elements you might expect — pervasive blast beats inflicted at such high speed as to create a fused wall of sound, vocals that alternate between low-end gutturals and piercing shrieks, and distorted guitar riffs that spin like a band-saw shearing through wood.
But grindcore is just the foundation, and on top of that Blastanus has pulled materials from other genres to erect an intriguing residence for themselves. (more after the jump, plus a chance to download the album . . .)
For one thing, the pacing of the music varies from the grindcore norm. “Scam” shifts back and forth between racetrack speed and a gloomy crawl, between complete cacophony and moments of relative quiet. “Burn, Bitch” and “Odd Times” also abruptly drop into slower rhythms, and “Overgrow the Government” becomes a virtual trudge through the murk before ramping back up into overdrive.
Antti Oksanen’s guitar playing also splashes a variety of colors across the canvass, spicing up the more standard grindcore riffing with tech-death style acrobatics and time-signature shifts, chaotically squealing leads, punk-rock chords in “Punk Bitch, Part 1”, and even a rare headbangable, heavy-metal riff on “King of Encrustation.” There’s even a passage on “Drumstick Made Eyehole” that sounds like a freaked-out saxophone (and indeed, it appears the band has recruited a sax player into its live line-up since Odd).
But the songs we like the most are the ones where Oksanen makes heavy use of tremolo picking. Combined with the blazing blast beats and the higher-register vocals, it converts “Calyptron” and “Incarnation” into raw black metal grind.
The vocals are indecipherable. Given the extremely pissed-off and misogynistic lyrical content, that’s probably for the best. They mainly serve to add a layer of texture to the distorted wall of noise.
Depending on your taste, the DIY production either holds back the quality of the music or is exactly right for a band called Blastanus. We would prefer fewer rough edges to both the sound and the song construction, but we still find ourselves kinda enthralled with what these dudes are doing. They’re pointing themselves in an interesting direction. We hope they can follow through with what they’ve started.
And now for some music. With this post, we’re going to try something new. We’ll still give you a song to stream like we usually do. But with the band’s permission, we’re also making available a high-speed download of the whole album in a .zip file from a file-hosting service we pay for (which means you don’t have to wade through another site’s splash page, advertisements, and annoying efforts to make you part with money for “premium” downloads).
You’ve got to be in the right frame of mind for this kind of sonic punishment, but if you like what you hear in the sample, we’re giving you the chance to hear more. And this won’t be the last time we do something like this.
P.S. This is the first time we’ve tried to set up an album download via the new service, and we’re basically half-witted when it comes to tech stuff in the first place. So, if you run into any problems with the download, please leave a comment or send us an e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org).