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How to deal with music from a country, whose 'cultural watchdogs' drag down their heel on modern and especially Western-style music and art. Just take a look at the cover artwork. It is easy to interpret and quite graphic in the way in which it expresses a sentiment a lot of people in Europe feel as well; maybe not today from from a broader perspective and with a focus on the history of this region. Out of the blood drenched ground there grow spots of bleak and trees without much of a contour and life. A cynic might say, well there are some plants at least. Will the band get in trouble because I have written this? Will someone in Iran read this magazine and pass this review over to the authorities? Am I paranoid?
'5grs' have changed their style considerably since their debut 'Access Denied'. A male vocalist has joined in with the task expressing the lyrics, which creates a stark contrast to the performance of ' Sanam 5049'. Yet her days of singing clean and without much of an aggressive touch have ceased to be as well, as she has added a considerable amount of growling as well as screaming to her way of dealing with the texts. This increase in the amount of facets can be discovered in respect to other aspects of the music, too. It seems the calm days for this band are over and they want to prove that they can create some heavy and fast paced music as well. Certainly, it would be fair to state that a lot of the elements that had been left out on the debut output can be found on this latest instalment.
It takes '5grs' only a couple of chords to make clear in which direction they have proceeded with the music. The tone has become harsher, the guitars are more intense, the beat has more drive, everything is dirtier … nastier. And yet, it is not like the band has removed all breaks. Even though the tempo shows a somewhat remarkable increase, at least compared with the debut, it does not feel the Iranians are confident with their performance. After two rather straightforward composition, they take everything back a bit. Melodic elements take over, leave the listener some time to breathe, but only for a short interval. It is like a pendulum and the intensity moves to and fro between the 'extremes'.
Some references: Kreator, the American Wargasm, Meliah Rage and in some respect also Metal Church as well as Metallica. All of these with more punch. Yes, you are a good observer. These are exactly the same that I had mentioned in the review on the debut. I do not care, because these comparisons still hold … in limits. Stop complaining and continue reading.
Speaking of influences, sadly there is no experimenting with arrangements from their own cultural sphere. The glimpses, which can be made out on their debut output, seem to have not penetrated the concept of the latest instalment. It has become more Western and it is hardly possible to see much of a difference compared to a European band; leaving the lyrics aside a bit. This is certainly disappointing, because the music reaches the point of being interchangeable. Why not something a bit more daring? Why this safe approach?
Even though it might not strike everyone as it does me, but the voice of 'Sanam 5049' had been produced a bit thin now and then. It could have used some additional punch and power. Hollow would be proper term in this respect. With the guitars offering a considerable larger amount of aggressiveness, her voice has some difficulties in reach par so to speak. Of the instruments something similar cannot be said.
A bit of polemic: Will the next release present another drastic shift? Or is there a chance to find some kind of mixture between the first and the second album? 'Let's Crush' is a strange release and unconvincing; at least in limits. '5grs' crush but in some respect it is their own performance that suffers from their violent action. When there is one aspect that can be refered to lacking, then it has to do with some kind of identity. Yes, it is easy to spot the vocals out of a good amount of other releases, but the music itself is way too much on the side of what can be described as established. 'Let's Crush' is by no means bad … it just leaves some expectations unfulfilled.
Based on a review originally written for ‘A dead spot of light (Number 19)’: