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To say that The Krixhjälters / Omnitron / Comecon / Enter the Hunt family are an eclectic bunch would be a grotesquely litotic exercise. Reading interviews from Rasmus Ekman, it seems that the creative energies of the band were being splayed all over the damn place, and they couldn’t really agree on what sound to go for. I have noticed that when this sort of thing happens, the two most likely scenarios are a.) the band ends up following a single charismatic and / or control-freakish leader and subverting all of their creative energies to his (or, occasionally her) control; or b.) the band breaks up after a few jumbled, messy flops. The situation for The Krixhjälters / Omnitron was closer to b.), given that they eventually split into the death-grind Comecon (Pelle Ström and Rasmus Ekman) and the more avant-garde heavy metal Enter the Hunt (Stefan Kälfors and Pontus Lindqvist) a good fifteen years later, but I defy anyone to tell me that Evilution or Masterpeace were flops. The last, Masterpeace, is not only a highly unique piece of thrash metal with a level of creativity rivalling if not exceeding Voivod’s Killing Technology, but also manages to rock the fuck out most of the time. The creativity tends to be completely off-the-wall, though: it may take a few listens before one can appreciate the sheer random bizarreness of a lot of what Omnitron are up to. Even then, I’d say it’s a coin-toss whether a thrasher will hail it as a unique diamond-in-the-rough or deride it as a complete train-wreck.
I’m not even just talking about the electronic-style sampling and the sound effects sprinkled liberally throughout the album, though that is certainly part of it. The opening track, ‘The Power Line’, very deftly demonstrates a fondness for disjointed variations in time-signature, a tendency to layer acoustic effects on top of the distortion, or play entire segments in an anti-folk clean-toned style segueing back into the basic thrash riff that snakes in and out of the piece. This is the sort of thing which shouldn’t work. I will gleefully and gladly bash bands for inconsistency, pretentiousness and art-bullshit wankery, and it is easy to see how Omnitron are sidling up to this line. For many thrash purists, they will probably have already crossed that line five seconds in.
But somehow Omnitron are pulling off this cacophony and managing to sound genuine, and it is bewildering to me how they are doing it. They’re pulling in all sorts of random shit on this album: Hammond organs, a saxophone, what sounds like a ukulele, as well as all sorts of vocal effects. A great mystery is how they manage to get all of them to fit. Other songs are just straight-out deliberate in their oddball execution: ‘Rock Drill Iron Ration’ sounds like a rather long Lawnmower Deth composition (also in its lyrical content, actually) if you got Coldplay to do a few of the vocals; and ‘Five in Four’ rides almost completely on its irregular time signature.
At the same time, though, this is very clear and very identifiable thrash. ‘Triumph of What’, ‘Torque Limit’, ‘How the Steel Was Tempered’ and ‘The Tension’ (in a proggier kind of way) are all very catchy in spite of their overarching weirdness. ‘Eroticon’ has a sleazy, loungy, almost grungy feel to it (right down to the female vocals sultrily chanting ‘eroticon’ over and over again in the chorus) but the song just carries along. There is only one part of the album that I simply flat-out hated, and that is the rap section on ‘Lucifertility’ (you know, That Song With the Saxophone). Nothing is more pathetic than a bunch of lily-white Scandinavian guys stopping their own song dead and pretending they can rap (whilst simultaneously throwing in a vocal sample of a little girl) – it actually sounds like a failed early-morning crank radio show, and every time I listen to it I feel like getting in the car, seeking out the nearest such disc jockey and beating the shit out of him with a rusty crowbar. Even my patience has limits.
Thankfully, that section is only a little more than ten seconds long, and apart from that, the rest of the album kicks serious arse. The vocals are not your typical thrash fare, most of them being a comfortable rock baritone, with a few sections where something gruffer gets tried (and some gang-shouts thrown in for good measure – ‘Take! To! The! Skies!’). Production and mixing are both, as is to be expected on an album like this where extra effects are ubiquitous, very high-calibre, so the entire thing sounds well-balanced.
The ‘Ace of Spades’ cover which serves as the Masterpeace’s bonus track I have to describe as near-parody. The tempo has been noticeably quickened, and Pontus’ belted vocals are just frantic enough in playing catch-up with the instrumentation as to sound deliberate. And when he comes around to the ‘AYce of SPAYDEs, the AYce of SPAY-ades!’, the suspicions are pretty much verified in the way he turns around Lemmy Kilmister’s signature modulation. That I appreciate, actually.
Quite honestly, I have listened through this album straight through seven times already, and I still have only a vague clue about how to score it. The only part of it that I actively disliked was the rapcore section in ‘Lucifertility’, but a lot of the bizarreness took more than a few spins to get used to. It did notably grow on me, though, so I’m gonna be generous here and give it a higher-than-average score.
17 / 20