(When DGR joined our foul yet fecund staff, we challenged him to review the entire discography of the Danish metal band Raunchy. Amazingly, he has done it. To see his reviews of the band’s first four albums, go here, here, here, and here.)
And thusly, we have reached the rear end of our Raunchy wrap up. We find ourselves standing at the gates of 2010’s release A Discord Electric. It’s crazy to think how much stuff can happen in the time between albums, but think about it this way: NoCleanSinging wasn’t a thing when Wasteland Discotheque hit in 2008, NoCleanSinging was a fully formed website by the time this album rolled around. I had probably burned one to the ground by 2010, although I’m not sure, as the time between when I started pretending to be some sort of metal blogger and winding up here tends to be something of a haze for me.
A Discord Electric would prove to be the last album for the long-fabled stable line-up that Raunchy had held, although the one guy who would leave the band – vocalist Kasper Thomsen — wouldn’t do so until the beginning of 2013. So even then, he still held out in the group for another three years following this album.
As with prior entries in this esteemed series of articles, I have tried to get some sort of grasp on public opinion about the album. Asking my fellow writers didn’t really grab me anything on this one, other than another, “Wow, are you still doing that thing?”, and most reviews tend to paint the disc as being good with middle of the road moments. So, long story short, I know nothing – because for some reason I’m laboring under the delusion that people actually care that I type this opening paragraph with virginal ears so as to make the exploration of the actual disc seem more fresh. My journalistic integrity hinges on my ignorance.
From a brief spin, the one thing that I really noticed from the beginning is a heavier use of key player Jeppe Christensen in pretty much every aspect of the album. In a way, it feels like A Discord Electric is his disc. They let him open it as the lead vocalist, and the usage of electronics and keyboards throughout the album get downright hammy sometimes. It’s like the band spent much of the previous disc painting this ideal of Raunchy being like a dance club in heavy metal form and then just decided to incorporate a whole bunch of actual dance club cheese into the following disc.
Raunchy essentially bought into their own gimmick on Discord Electric and from the brief spin (and now third as I type this) I can tell that it works about half the time. It felt like the band were really starting to push the boundaries of whatever formula they had developed for themselves previously and Discord Electric is then pushing it about as far as it’ll get before the bubble bursts and their faces wind up covered with raunchiness. It feels like a the heavier elements were eschewed in favor of the powerful pop chorus and arpeggiator breaks, and in between you still wind up with the occasional guitar crush and bend. It’s a very strange dynamic and it reminds me a lot of what Engel do, in that every song is vastly different from the last on their albums and they can go from a dance break to a breakdown in half a second – the heavy use of electronics on Discord Electric likely having a huge influence on that opinion.
Because of the aforementioned conflict, both you as the listener and the band have to accept that if they’re going to do dumb synth lines that would fit in well with trance songs, they might as well be as dumb as possible and, by accepting this, when the band are at their dumbest they actually seem to be firing on all cylinders. Because it feels sincere – like this is what the band were truly meant to be on this disc. The best songs on Discord Electric actually seem to have the most glazed ham content, like a sugary-overdose-on-candy rave combined with guitars and a very angry vocalist.
“Nght Prty” (Because FUCK VOWELS YO) is perfect for this, with its keyboard lines straight out of a Poisonblack tune in the opening, and then the pop as hell chorus lines. The whole song is a heavy metal disco track and the weird and dumb hybrid that it forms works really well. Again, a lot of the foundation for it seems to be built on Jeppe’s talents as a pretty good singer, and his usage of vocoder makes it seem like a robot has come to to provide the clean breaks in each song. For instance: 1:40 in the song is so saccharine sweet that I almost felt my face was going to collapse.
Other moments like this come just about any time the chorus hits in the songs “Street Emperor” and “Shake Your Grave” because, wow, are those some cheese ball songs too. The chorus in “Street Emperor” almost overloaded me a few times. They even have the cymbal runs that I have fallen in love with throughout my listenings to this band.
As a result, the heavier parts of the disc are what come off as somewhat inauthentic, mixed down in favor of Raunchy morphing into some sort of disco-metal hybrid. It’s been tried before by other groups to varying degrees of success. Kasper puts much more of his own voice into his screams on this disc, too, so it feels more like a yell as opposed to the high shriek he’d been pulling out for two discs prior. Gives off a strange sense of passion for these songs, which is great when he’s screaming gibberish like, “You’ll be my Tiger Crown!!!”.
However, the heavy songs come off as being a little unoriginal, relying too much on stock riffs that are metrically rather heavy, but seem to have been more absorbed through osmosis from other bands than actually written out to crush. It’s a little too much going to the well and it feels like they were put there because otherwise it wouldn’t be a Raunchy song. But then again, what is a Raunchy in the first place?
I’ve gone through five albums now trying to figure it out and still just have a blank sheet of paper with the words, “Uh…..guys from Denmark?” written on it. I don’t want this to seem mean-spirited at all, because after spending three albums defining themselves, Raunchy are actually pretty brave to just play with a bunch of different elements and spice things up a bit on Discord Electric. Sometimes though, it feels a bit like too much gimmickry and not as much artistry.
That said, it’s easy to warm up to the stupidest elements of this disc because it feels scrappy. The band have nothing to prove really, yet they still packed an album full of the crowd shouting moments, singalong moments, and every other dumb thing that could make this album a joy to play live that they could. Not only that, but the songs on this disc seem to have been named by a crazy person.
Discord Electric seems like a strange album to hang up your hat on, but this is indeed the last disc Kasper Thomsen would appear on, later quitting the band in early 2013. Still, by measures of a regular album tour cycle he definitely rode it out. Actually, believe this, Raunchy are still touring in support of this album. They’re planning an early Shake Your Grave tour in early 2014, before then embedding themselves in the studio with new vocalist Mike Semesky.
The prevailing public opinion is surprisingly in line with my own when it comes to Discord Electric. It is a good disc, with a couple of really standout moments, but overall the whole thing feels like a bit of a blur. It sucks in one aspect, because it’s probably the most playful Raunchy have been with their sound, and you really want to cheer for that. This, however, seems to be the one where people tell you that if you really enjoyed the earlier stuff you’ll like this one, but otherwise they’ll likely point you back to earlier works before bringing you back to Discord. I don’t think the reason that four years will likely have passed before you see new Raunchy is because of this disc. Many album contracts seem to be three-album contracts, so it’s hard to tell if Lifeforce really threw any support behind this one, as they did with Death Pop Romance and Wasteland Discotheque. Maybe people just don’t want to forgive the band for the sins of the song “Big Truth”.
As we cross the finish line, I feel like I got off a little easy in terms of being hazed. I know we all like to have a good laugh at the name Raunchy, but overall, I actually found myself enjoying both Confusion Bay and Death Pop Romance quite a bit, as well as going half-and-half with the two following discs. In fact, I don’t think I really hit a song I actively disliked until I came across “Big Truth”, the 8th song on their latest disc. Although I’m still not sure if I’ve become a fan, at the very least they’ve become a curiosity in my music listening habits – and likely when they start to work on a new disc in 2014, I’ll check it out.
I do wish the band luck in the future because I do feel like they’ve become unwitting participants in a very dumb project, initially starting out as an over-caffeinated joke before following the traditional Hollywood arc of becoming something of a tale of understanding and redemption, like a really bad buddy-cop film – minus the knee slappingly HI-larious racial misgivings that usually happen in those sorts of movies. I believe that by giving Raunchy a fair shake, I’ve actually come to understand the band somewhat, even if (and I really am working on it guys) I still have somewhat of a visceral reaction to the name alone, only now its only a minor eye twitch instead of the usual psychosis. Still, if the band can keep it together in 2014, here’s hoping they put out a really good disc and see success in the future.